Mayor speaks about future of Opelika - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Mayor speaks about future of Opelika

Press Release

OPELIKA, AL - Ever since the April 13th announcement came from Michelin North America that they intend to close the BF Goodrich Tire Manufacturing Plant in Opelika by October 31, 2009, Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller has been busy marshalling resources together to formulate a practical and workable plan to help the nearly 1,000 employees of that plant find new good paying jobs.

The City of Opelika will be in contact with those groups usually involved in such matters to ensure that no resource goes untapped:  The 2 year college system (for retraining employees), the Region 8 Workforce Development Council (for training resources), the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) rapid response team, and the Alabama Development Office for the marketing and recruitment of new Industries.  We also will be working very closely with Michelin, BFGoodrich, and the Michelin Development Program.   But Fuller plans to go one step further and engage the services of NKF Consulting - an internationally known agency which was the lead site consultants for ThyssenKrupp Steel, a company that invested an estimated $3.7 Billion into "ThyssenKrupp Alabama" being built in Mobile County - and earning the State of Alabama the distinct honor of gaining the biggest development project in the history of North America.

NKF Consulting (a Newmark Knight Frank Company) will be asked to do a preliminary assessment of our situation and make recommendations for a course of action the city should take.

"Michelin North America has done a lot in, and for, our community; we thank them for that and we understand their difficult decision," states Fuller, "the primary concern of the city now will be to move forward and find other opportunities for this highly skilled and dedicated workforce."

Fuller goes on to say, "Opelika has had similar situations in the past.  No one could have imagined this community not having a single textile mill in our community ten years ago.  And yet, all of the textile mills are now gone.  But the community has showed a remarkable resiliency through the years and has continued to grow and prosper, which is a true testament to the quality of workforce we have here - not only in Opelika, but in all of East Alabama.  And while the current national economic situation presents us with an additional challenge to our situation, it's not a challenge that we cannot overcome with persistent diligence."

Mayor Fuller's preliminary plans for the city are to utilize NKF Consulting expertise and their recommendations working for the city; coordinate with the different agencies involved and create a planned, systematic approach to how the city should proceed; and let the Economic Development Department "have at it".  "Al Cook and his Economic Development Team are not only experienced, they have a proven track record in bringing in world class companies into our area," Fuller stated, "We are prepared to go anywhere in the world in search of innovative companies that will offer the workforce in our area high quality, high paying jobs. I'm grateful and appreciative of the strong support and leadership of the Opelika City Council, the Opelika Industrial Development Authority and the Opelika Chamber of Commerce."   And what can the City of Opelika offer these companies in return?  A great location, excellent schools and easy access to ground and air transportation, utilities, plus a ready and willing, highly-skilled workforce that is already in place and ready to go to work for them.

Courtesy: City of Opelika

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