Third Quarter 2014 Newsletter
It has been a very busy summer. I enjoy traveling our Great State and meeting with people, and I have certainly logged many miles doing that these last three months. As we close on the third quarter and enter the final three months of 2014 and this quadrennium, I have taken the opportunity to reflect on the many accomplishments of this administration, the State as a whole, and our local communities. I am so proud to be an Alabamian and every town I visit, every person I meet, and every ribbon-cutting or jobs announcement I attend makes me even prouder to be from the Yellowhammer State.
In a short period of time, the economic landscape of Alabama has drastically changed. Under the leadership of Governor Robert Bentley, our unemployment is lower, we’re adding thousands of new jobs, and our overall economy is much improved. I have been saying for quite some time that “Alabama is on the move!” Our success as a State wouldn’t be possible without the commitment and hard work of people on the local level. In mid-September, I launched my “Ivey on the Move” tour to visit several communities and meet with the local leaders who’ve put their shoulder to the wheel and helped move Alabama forward.
Tuscaloosa County is among the counties with the lowest unemployment rate in the State, and it was my first stop on the tour. Sen. Gerald Allen was kind enough to host me in his hometown as we visited with Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama members, toured the lumber division of The Westervelt Company, and met with employees at Nucor Steel. Both companies run impressive operations. Westervelt has a $253 million economic impact on the region and is energy independent. Nucor employs more than 400 people with an average salary of around $85,000 a year. When most companies were laying employees off to stay afloat during the economic downturn of 2008, Nucor managed to retain every single employee.
The companies produce different products, but the work ethic and leadership at Westervelt and Nucor are similarly outstanding. It’s important to note that their success is not the result of government prompting or regulations, but because they strive to do the right thing for their employees and for the success of their business. All too often, federal requirements get in the way of doing business. We’ve seen that with Obamacare and the battle at the EPA. Without a doubt, certain State and Federal regulations are absolutely necessary, like those that ensure the safety and health of workers, but some regulations are not necessary and actually hinder and hold back progress. That’s why in Alabama, we are committed to cultivating a positive business environment where commerce can thrive.
I’ll continue “Ivey on the Move” in October with planned visits in Birmingham, Gadsden, Cullman, Anniston, and Mobile. I look forward to meeting with more of our local business leaders who are instrumental in the positive growth of our State. Stay in the loop by following my travels on Facebook and Twitter! #IveyontheMove
Meeting with Military Leadership
As Chair of the Military Stability Commission, I am actively engaged in Alabama’s first ever coordinated statewide approach to brace for any potential cuts or changes due to the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, sequestration, or other realignments. The MSC has studied and discussed the critical needs of our bases, but there’s no replacement for first-hand experience and face-to-face communication. So in addition to “Ivey on the Move,” I am traveling to each of the four major military installations and several National Guard units across the State to meet with military leadership and put eyes on the situation.
At the 908th Airlift Wing at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, I met with Wing Commander Col. Adam Willis and other key leadership. I wrote at length in my August column about our meeting. It was very productive and informative and helped me to see exactly where we need to devote our attention -- the aging air traffic control tower and hangars that are in need of improvement, for example. The condition and capabilities of facilities are an important factor in the BRAC process. The 908th continues to carry out its mission exceptionally well, but anything we can do to advance those identified areas of improvement can help the 908th better compete when the time comes. The C-130, flown at the 908th, has been in continuous production longer than any other military aircraft. It’s truly a marvel of American ingenuity and engineering that has stood the test of time. The 908th generates a $69.3 million economic impact and employs 1,200 people. Needless to say, it is vital to the prosperity of the region.
187th Fighter Wing
A smaller crew is holding down the fort at the 187th Fighter Wing of the Alabama Air National Guard while most of the unit is currently deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. I was honored to meet with the Wing Vice Commander Col. Will Sparrow and Assistant Adjutant General of the Alabama Air National Guard Paul Jacobs, as well as other members of the unit. As a Guard unit located at Dannelly Field beside the Montgomery Regional Airport, the 187th is uniquely positioned and equipped to complete missions important to the State and the Department of Defense in a very timely manner, using resources efficiently and effectively. Simply put: they’re good. The DoD hand-selected the 187th for the mission on its current deployment. It’s the first time a fighter wing, Guard or active, has been deployed for six months without changing crew out. Within military circles, these Alabama fliers are well-known for their ability to get the job done. Looking forward, 187th leadership talked to me about posturing to be selected for the F-35. I will do everything in my power to help the 187th secure those jets to ensure the long-term viability of the unit.
End Child Hunger in Alabama and Auburn University Athletics: A Winning Combination
End Child Hunger in Alabama took a big step forward with the announcement of Auburn University Athletics joining in the fight against hunger! Auburn Athletics has embraced hunger as its priority community service initiative. Auburn could have chosen any cause to support and I am thrilled that ECHA caught the attention of Athletics Director Jay Jacobs. Major kudos to Harriet Giles of the Hunger Solutions Institute and Executive Director of ECHA for making the pitch. Multiple media outlets covered the press conference when Jay, Pro-Golfer and Auburn Alumnus Jason Dufner, Amanda Dufner, and I outlined the new partnership. Through the Jason Dufner Foundation, Jason and Amanda have also devoted resources to fighting hunger in Lee County and have been very instrumental with ECHA. The partnership with Auburn Athletics opens the door to a myriad of opportunities to bring hunger to the forefront, and I believe this is just the beginning of a chain reaction in the fight against hunger. More stakeholders are asking to become involved and resolving that hunger in Alabama is simply not acceptable.
Like on the football field, we can win with the right tools and execution. But in sports, you win some and you lose some. We cannot, and will not, lose against hunger. #HungerIsntAGame
Fair Ballot Commission
The ballot for the November election includes five proposed changes to our State Constitution. In years past, voters have voiced frustration that the wording for such measures is confusing and sometimes it’s hard to tell what a “yes” vote even means. The Fair Ballot Commission was created to remedy that and I was pleased to have a spot on the Commission. FBC has broken each Constitutional Amendment down in layman's terms. It’s been made accessible on the Alabama Legislature’s website http://www.legislature.state.al.us/ and I wrote about each proposed amendment in my September column. I encourage you to take a look at Your guide to the 2014 proposed Constitutional Amendments and become educated on the issues. An educated voter is essential to creating good government.
Thank you for the privilege to serve this Great State. I look forward to upcoming trips and hope to see you along the way! If I don’t see you, please do not hesitate to contact my office if I may be of any assistance to you.