Responsive leadership, educated work force, easy access to interstates and proximity to major cities are key factors in drawing businesses to the area.
Blount County was the fifth-fastest growing county in Alabama during the 1990s. From 2000 to 2006, Blount County was the sixth-fastest growing county. Much of this growth can be attributed to an excellent quality of life, access to major cities and metropolitan areas in North Alabama and improvements in major transportation infrastructures.
The Blount County and Oneonta school systems continue to be recognized as two of the best education systems in the state. Both consistently rank in the upper levels of achievement scores and graduation rates. A safe environment conducive to learning and rich in extracurricular activities is part of each system. Blount students are within a one hour drive in all directions of a state community college and a number of four year institutions in the Birmingham and Gadsden areas.
Agriculture continues to play an important role in the economy of Blount County as the area ranks in the top ten statewide in poultry, eggs, and cattle production.
During the past two and a half years, fourteen new and expanded industry projects have occurred in the county. Currently, two major expansions and two new industries are being discussed. Much of this aggressive industry expansion is a result of incentives offered to prospective manufacturers.
There is a need for new industrial parks and improvements to those that currently exist.
It is easy to understand why business and industry would want to locate in Blount County. First and foremost, businesses and industries are wanted by the people and existing business community. Other advantages include leadership that is responsive to the needs of business, an educated work force, and a network of good roads, with proximity to interstates and an international airport.
Several incentive programs are available for financing new businesses and business expansions in the area, not the least of which is the state’s income tax credit incentive plan. This plan simply allows for an annual tax credit of up to 5 percent of total project costs for 20 years. Manufacturing, distributing, research and development, and headquarters facilities all qualify.
A firm must create 20 new jobs and must invest $2 million in capital. Average pay must be at least $8 an hour ($10 including benefits).Qualification is automatic pending filing of required forms with the State Department of Revenue. The credit is limited to actual tax liability to the State of Alabama.
In addition, Alabama law allows for the abatement of the non-education portion of ad valorem property taxes and sales anduse taxes on construction materials and manufacturing equipment to firms qualifying for the tax incentive.
The full range of financial services is readily available in the county and throughout the Birmingham metropolitan area. Any of the larger banks and savings institutions can be presumed to offer full capitalization services and fully staffed international banking departments.
Local business associations have been formed to promote in-county shopping to retain local tax dollars.
The message from the Blount County-Oneonta Chamber of Commerce to business and industry is straight-forward and sincere: We welcome you to Blount County, where you will be greeted with small-town hospitality and treated as a neighbor. We want your business.