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Hoover Chamber of Commerce Economic Forum
Hoover Chamber of Commerce executive director Bill Powell, James Dedes and Chamber board member Gregg Maercker (left to right).
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Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce secretary Kathleen Spencer and Jason Dedes during the Chamber's economic development forum.
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Kathleen Spencer thanks Jason Dedes for coming to the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce Economic Forum.
The Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce economic development committee welcomed speaker James Dedes at its June 4 meeting.
Dedes, executive director of the Shelby County Economic and Industrial Development Authority, spoke about creating jobs and bringing businesses to Shelby County during the committee’s forum.
“Part of our mission is to encourage the public sector and the private sector to create sites that we can show companies,” Dedes said. “We can talk about our quality of life in Shelby County all day long, but unless we’ve got a site or a building to show a company, we’re not going to have any success getting that business to come to Shelby County.”
One of the biggest challenges Alabama faces is competition with states that can provide greater incentives, including Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and South Carolina.
“We are constantly sort of outgunned in terms of the funding that the state gives to the Department of Commerce compared to other states,” Dedes said. “So we’ve got to be creative in Alabama to figure out how we do more with less.”
These changes include the incentives that are offered to businesses. While big projects were won during Gov. Bob Riley’s administration, the state no longer has the money to write big checks. New incentives are a reflection of that fact, Dedes said.
One potential change would require local communities and governments to “step up” with incentives and benefits. Another includes analyzing the jobs created and revenue generated by a company and then offering a rebate for a portion of the taxes the company paid.
“Now it’s pay-as-you-go instead of writing a big check up front,” Dedes said. “It remains to be seen if it is going to be a successful strategy.”
Even though there are still states that can write big checks to bring in companies, Dedes said they will eventually face a similar situation to Alabama – the money just won’t be there. For now, he hopes this shift in incentives will make Alabama more competitive.
Focusing only on bringing in big projects is not ideal, though. Dedes also discussed the importance of reaching out to the businesses already in the county.
“We know the vast majority of jobs created in Alabama are from companies that are already here,” Dedes said, “so we need to do a better job of meeting with existing companies and finding out what we can do on the county level and the city level to help them be more successful.”
In the future, SCEIDA plans to work more with existing businesses and help those grow, a process that could include evaluation of the incentives that are offered.
“A lot of incentives are geared toward going after big projects, and there are so many more jobs that are created out of companies that are growing,” Dedes said. “And there are probably not enough incentives that reflect that reality.”