We’ve Launched Alabama’s First Statewide Business focused Twitter Chat – #BizChatAL and during our thirteenth chat we talked with @NicoleJonesAL. Dr. Nicole Jones is an economic developer who builds communities across the state of Alabama and we were honored to talk with her about community building.

Economic development is a sustained, collaborative partnership between the public & private sector with the goal of enhancing the quality of life of an area. It is the result of teamwork & strategies that involve the recruitment & retention of business, industry, & community. Economic development occurs when we – as leaders, as citizens – create an environment conducive for business where companies and their families want to stay and be involved in our communities. #BizChatAL

Economic development requires a foundation upon which we can build. Strong local economies are built upon strong local communities. As a community, you want to create a culture that people want to be a part of. The most successful communities have a quality and a quantity of leaders in the public and private sector who encourage citizen participation and empower residents. #BizChatAL

Companies look for a combination of factors. Availability of Skilled Labor (a quality and skilled workforce), Transportation (access to highways, airports, bridges, ports, broadband), and Quality of Life is always a top tier priority. #BizChatAL

If you look at a corporate balance sheet, HR $ is always at the top. Before making a million+ dollar investment, companies want to make sure that employees will want to stay and not quit six months down the road because they do not enjoy living in an area. People desire a low cost of living, good schools, health care, recreation, & safe communities. Think libraries, seminars, festivals, parades, & Friday night football. These elements create memories and help residents feel included and part of a greater good. #BizChatAL

We need to change our messaging!

We can help current generations overcome the stigma associated with working in the trades by talking with students & parents & helping them realize that it is honorable and respectable to be able to feed your family as a plumber, or a welder, or an electrician. Also, partner with organizations such as Go Build Alabama that serve as a medium to partner education with industry to fill these gaps. #BizChatAL

Economic development organizations and consultants provide significant data. Then, you have to “scout.” The best way to identify a community’s resources and assets is to get to know the community. Tour the town – often. I am a firm believer in “boots on the ground” – grassroots – spend time in the area meetings to get a more accurate perspective on resources, assets, and ways to potentially help a community position itself for growth. #BizChatAL


Thank you, Nicole!

Want to be part of the statewide #BizChatAL conversation? Feel free to reach out of you would like to join us as a featured guest, or hop in the chat every Thursday on Twitter from 2-3PM/CST on our twitter account: @mtlakeschamber or follow the hashtag #BizChatAL