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Strong’s State of the County reviews accomplishments, plans

HUNTSVILLE – Achievements and innovations dominated topics in the 2018 State of the County address by Dale Strong, President of the Madison County Commission.

Strong delivered his status report for county governance at the Von Braun Center on Jan. 11. Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce coordinated the event.

“2018 is poised to continue with our progress,” Strong said in his opening.

He commended efforts by local municipal and county officials in the cities of Huntsville and Madison and counties of Madison and Limestone, along with 2,100 active chamber members, for unprecedented efforts to bring the Toyota-Mazda project home to North Alabama.

Commitment by Toyota and Mazda “is one of the largest, if not the largest, economic development packages in the history of the state of Alabama,” Strong said. In a joint venture, Toyota Motor Corp. and Mazda Motor Corp. will construct an assembly plant at costs of $1.6 billion. The venture promises 4,000 new jobs for the area.

Workers in Madison County currently manufacture engines that power one-third of all Toyota vehicles produced in North America, Strong said about the existing Toyota motor plant in north Huntsville. Workers there build 3,000-plus engines every 24 hours.

“In the last six years, the Madison County region has been blessed to announce more than 20,000 new jobs,” Strong said.

“2017 saw monumental strides for Madison County … new jobs, construction, roads and new schools, resulting in a stronger workforce and local economy. Our workforce, economy and quality of life are what attract new business and expansion to our area, creating new tax dollars (for our cities) but also for our three public school systems,” Strong said.

From the podium, Strong pulled out a baseball cap and ‘juggled’ a baseball with one hand for tongue-in-cheek recognition of the City of Madison’s work to attract the Mobile Bay Bears baseball team to relocate in Madison. “Sometimes there are projects that we can’t talk about for months. I haven’t said anything or breached anything that I’ve signed,” Strong joked.

He commended the Level 1 Trauma Center at Huntsville Hospital, along with pre-hospital care by MedFlight and HEMSI.

Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce “continues to be an inspiration for other chambers across the country for job creation and economic development. Our chamber is a trailblazer for regional partnerships and … diversification of our economy.” Strong cited The Boeing Company, Yulista, Remington, HudsonAlpha, Polaris, Intergraph Corporation and Blue Origin, among others.

By 2025, employment figures for Redstone Arsenal should reach more than 50,000 people, compared to 43,000 currently, he said. “Madison County is the sixth largest county in the United States in defense spending budgets,” he said.

Madison County has more than $221 million in road projects, under construction and planned, he said. In a video, Strong ‘flew’ a crop-duster plane to show the road sites:

* Extension of Northern Bypass and resurfacing five miles of Ala. 431.

* Overpasses for Blake Bottom, Mastin Lake, Byrd Spring and Lily Flagg roads.

* New Flint River Bridge and bridge replacement on Dan Tibbs Road.

* Widening Winchester Road and Hwy. 53.

* Additional lanes for Zierdt Road, along with paving and widening of Martin Road.

* 1-65 repaving.

“I’m proud to report that construction and revitalization of our road system is underway,” Strong said.

In closing, Strong said, “Together, our region works incredibly hard to drive growth to continue as a leader in economic development and propel our workforce and local economy and to support our military and national defense, while paving the way for a bright and hopeful future …”

“Madison County remains on solid ground with an even stronger economy … Our best days are still ahead,” Strong said.

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