Coastal Gateway expanded from a 3 County Economic Development organization to a 5 County organization, picking up Clarke and Washington Counties. They hired a person to meet with existing industries to address their needs (Synchronist Plan).
The City sold a 225,000 square foot old industrial building to local business owners who have renovated the building and listed it for sale or lease for manufacturing (Hornady-Sawyer Building).
International Sign & Design expanded its workforce by some 60 new jobs, to bring total employment to approximately 100. ISD also doubled the size of its Monroeville facility, to 60,000 square feet. Its principals, Pam & Eric Sekeres, purchased and renovated a home in Monroeville.
Vanity Fair/Fruit of the Loom added some 200 jobs in distribution. Monroeville is now the central distribution point for Fruit for North and South America. The company also announced the projected closure of its Monroeville dye and finish facility for late 2009.
Georgia Pacific announced the idling of its Peterman operation effective January 10, 2009 (320 jobs).
In June and July, members of the Chamber of Commerce, City Council, County Commission and Industrial Development Boards visited the Andalusia Industrial Park at the airport. Efforts are being made to establish a Monroe County/Monroeville Airport Authority and purchase land adjoining the Monroe County Airport to develop an Industrial Park.
In August, 2008, the City annexed 24 acres of property being developed by Walmart and a smaller parcel where a service station is located. Efforts are being made to annex businesses south of Monroeville along Hwy 21 to the Monroe County Airport.
A new Walmart Super Center is scheduled to open in March 18, 2009. Walgreens has purchased property in Monroeville with plans to build. A new Hainje's Furniture store was built and relocated from downtown to South Alabama Avenue. A second Dollar General Store was built and opened in March, west of the downtown square.
A local business owner presented plans to the City Council for purchasing and renovating an old shopping center. In September, the City formed a Commercial Improvement Cooperative District and granted a tax surcharge on retail businesses operating in the shopping center to assist with the cost of renovations to the center.
A shopping center on Claiborne Street, across from the Water Tower Conference Center, has been renovated by local business Floors To Go/B,D & S Services, and includes a new J. C. Penney Catalogue Store.
The City signed a contract with the Buxton Company in August to develop a retail recruitment package for Monroeville.
The Chamber of Commerce sponsored an International Trade Seminar (June, 2008) to acquaint area employers with export opportunities.
The Education Foundation recommended to the Monroe County Board of Education that a drug testing program be implemented in the schools to test kids participating in extra circular activities. The City contributed $30.000.00 to help fund the program. A final decision has not been made on the drug testing program.
A series of public meetings was held in Fall, 2007 to seek public input on the education system in Monroe County. The "Together We Can" campaign resulted.
A new Superintendent was hired to replace the retiring Superintendent.
A new Family & Consumer Science Building is under construction at Monroeville Junior High School.
Efforts are still being made to develop a local channel at Alabama Southern College
In 2008, 5 candidates ran for the office of Mayor. There were 11 candidates for four council places. Two Council districts were unopposed.
In June 2007, the City Council increased the sales tax to provide for a $2.00 per hour pay increase for all City employees. Hazardous duty pay is now being paid to fire fighters and police officers.
The City ended fiscal year 2008 with a fund balance of approximate $2.4 million. The City has maintained a balanced budget over the past several years and has built a reserve to withstand a foreseeable downturn in the local economy.
City and County were represented in Washington DC to facilitate the four-laning of Hwy 84. Survey work has been completed by the Alabama DOT to 4 lane Hwy 84 from Evergreen to Monroeville. The State is in the process of acquiring right-of-way.
The City Council implemented an additional ½-cent sales tax to be used for street paving and storm drainage. Since the passage of the tax, the City has spent over $650,000.00 on street resurfacing and $137,000.00 on drainage projects.
New sidewalks are being installed along Hwy 21 Bypass connecting a senior housing development to local shopping center.
City Council adopted a resolution to participate in the Small Town & Downtowns 2010 program. The Chamber of Commerce is working closely with the Alabama Bureau of Tourism & Travel in planning activities and promotions for 2010.
The 2007 Leadership NOW class is working to create attractive entry ways into Monroeville with hopes of erecting City entrance signs.
The City of Monroeville formed a Litter Task Force committee and established a job to patrol illegal dumping sites and littering. The city participated in the PAL statewide litter cleanup campaign in April 2007 and April 2008. The City adopted a Litter Mascot (Captain Anti-Litter) and raised money to purchase a litter mascot costume.
The Chamber of Commerce launched a new website and member management system which includes a community calendar of events, google maps to members, and customized reports. The website is interactive and will provide members with their own individual web presence. The chamber's website receives 175.000 member inquiries per month on the new system, and over 1,700 calendar views.
The Chamber of Commerce published its 2008 Monroeville magazine in Summer, 2008, 5,000 editions distributed through the chamber and local businesses.
PUBLIC HEALTH & SAFETY:
The City formed 3 Neighborhood Watch committees which meet monthly.
The city constructed a Community Storm Shelter, which also serves as the meeting place for "Meals for the Elderly".
The City established a police patrol car program and purchased 6 additional patrol cars so every officer will have his own patrol car.
The City completed a new police/municipal court complex.
The City purchased a new fire truck and constructed a new fire station in the Industrial Park.
The City created a Crime Prevention Committee to coordinate efforts of City and County law enforcement with Faith-based programs to address crime problems and connect problem juveniles in the schools and community with programs to build character and provide activities for youth.
As mentioned in the Education Section, a drug testing program is being established to test students participating in extra circular activities in Monroe County schools.
The Monroe County Health Department held its second Drive-In Flu Clinic in Fall, 2008.
Monroe County Hospital hired a new Administrator. The hospital successfully recruited a new family practice physician. Monroeville Medical Clinic added a women's health care nurse practitioner to its staff. Monroe County Hospital is adding a sleep clinic to its services: "Monroe County Sleep Solutions". The clinic is slated to open the first quarter of 2009. Monroe County Hospital also opened its chemotherapy wing in the hospital in 2008. The hospital is expanding the Cancer Treatment Center, adding additional parking, and has added oncology services.
A new office building has been constructed for Doctors Clinic at Ollie, and Primary Care Physicians opened its new offices in 2008 on Drewry Road, Monroeville.
The Chamber of Commerce, through two volunteers, has completed training in the Certified Vendor Program for sales of Alcoholic Beverages for some 175 employees of local convenience and grocery stores, restaurants, etc.
The City purchased 8 AED's (automated external defibulators) for each department of the City and trained employees in the operation of the AED's
QUALITY OF LIFE:
Several new businesses have opened on Monroeville's downtown Square. These include: Pharr Photography, Beehive Coffee & Books, In-A-Scents Embroidery, and Elaine's Antiques, which includes Cecillia's "Member When Vintage Boutique", and Southern Treasures, an antique and consignment shop.
New meeting space is available to the community with the renovation of "Claiborne Place". Thomasville native Wesley Dozier purchased the former Monroeville Optometric Clinic and has renovated it as a small meeting/reception facility on West Claiborne Street.
A complete facelift has been accomplished for "Our Place Family Center." A new director, Crystal Sawyer Moody, is in place. The facility now has theatre style seating and shows first run movies on a regular basis. The facility also received a prominent new sign, on Highway 21 South at Agricultural Drive.
Alabama Southern College accomplished a complete renovation of the tennis courts, and has continued to enhance the beauty of its campus. The college has also completely redone its softball and baseball complexes.
The Monroeville Writers Symposium celebrates its 12th year in 2009. The year 2010 is the 50th Anniversary of the publication of Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird." This coincides with the state's "Year of Small Towns & Downtowns" promotion.
The Chamber of Commerce hosted a FAM tour for tour operators and travel writers in 2007, and will host a group of travel writers in March, 2008, assisted by the Monroe County Tourism Board.
The Monroeville Area YMCA has hired a new director. The Y is working with the city on plans to build a new swimming pool.
Several eyesores have been removed by the county: the old jail in downtown Monroeville and the hazardous county coliseum on Drewry Road has been torn down.
The Chamber of Commerce sponsored its 5th Mockingbird Market in November, 2008, on Monroeville's downtown square. Proceeds from the market are being donated to the City of Monroeville for a landscape plan for Lyle Salter Park in downtown Monroeville.
The Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring its 17th class of Monroe County "Leadership Now" with 14 participants.
The Chamber of Commerce and Monroe County Extension Service spearheaded development of "Youth Leadership Monroe County" partially funded by a grant from Auburn University, and by a $ 100 participation fee per student. The program includes eight weeks of Dale Carnegie's "Generation Next" program, modeled after its 12 week adult program. The program also includes 4 units of community leadership, encompassing a history retreat, plant tours and infrastructure, health care and government, and an economic development trip to Montgomery. The first year the program graduated 15 students; Year 2, 21 students. The Chamber and Extension were turned down for a grant to fund the program in Year 3, so other options are currently under consideration.
In Spring 2008, the Chamber of Commerce sponsored a Dale Carnegie class for 35 members of business and industry.
The Chamber of Commerce sponsored a retail marketing seminar for 40 area merchants and home based businesses in 2008, co-sponsored by the UAB School of Business and the Alabama Entrepreneurial Research Network.
The Chamber of Commerce, working with the Women's Financial Center in Mobile, implemented "Coffee with Sylvia," a small business initiative which meets monthly.
Ace Community Report