It's a county that will soon be the home to the latest major interstate, I-22, presently referred to as "Corridor X" in Alabama. Once fully operational, the 213- mile interstate will cut right through Walker County directly linking Birmingham to Memphis Tennessee.
This connection is opening up jobs, access to one of cleanest lakes in the country and the only place fly fish for rainbow trout year round. Less than 22 miles from Birmingham, Walker County- an area once bustling with coal mining operation is home to Jasper, the county's seat.
The town of more than 13,857 people is bustling with new energy and more businesses opening up in the downtown business district.
On the job front, the Alabama Department of Labor April 2013 data lists the county's unemployment rate at 6.2% which is slight higher than that state's non-seasonally adjusted rate of 6.0%. However, Walker County leaders and citizens are not letting the latest data sway their efforts and momentum of new industries that are coming to the county because of their dedicated workforce, access to the new interstate and land that readily available for retail, commercial and tourism opportunities.
From a concentrated and consistent push to attract a wide range of industries for locals to the County's Economic Development Agency and Chamber of Commerce working together to aggressively attract businesses to the county; Walker County leaders are rallying around a 5- year plan called "Forward Walker County the Future is Ours." The plan aims to support the varied resources that will boost retail/business growth, workforce readiness, and tourism/image and leadership engagement all in efforts to attract and sustain the county as a location where locals can enjoy a quality of life and where businesses can thrive and meet their corporate goals with direct access to Interstate 22.
In this Alabama's 13 What's Working report, journalist Bettina Boateng, producer Danielle Deavours and photojournalist Ben Bryson take you west of the Birmingham metro area to introduce you to the faces and places and hear what citizens and county leaders believe is working in Walker County, please view the online video report.
Links to resources mentioned in the report are listed below:
Walker County Chamber of Commerce - http://www.walkerchamber.us/
Walker County Economic Development Authority: http://www.wceida.com/
City of Japser: http://www.jaspercity.com/site/
Riverside Fly Fishing Shop www.riversideflyshop.com
38-20 Boutique and Gallery https://www.facebook.com/Thirty8Twenty
1732 Valley View Dr.
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