Through the Baldwin County Chamber Coalition, the local business community recently released its second-annual legislative agenda, which generally places emphasis on improved infrastructure, workforce and education, economic development, healthcare, the environment and quality of life.
The agenda was set after reviewing the answers to a survey of all five of the county’s chambers of commerce, distributed among their 3,500 members. Casey Williams, president of the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce, said priorities hadn’t changed much from the year before.
“The way it flows is the executives and the governmental affairs folks get together, review the survey and make sure it checks all the boxes,” she said. “We tabulate and put all the information together, then meet again to determine what it says and what are the main points in developing our agenda. These are not hyperlocal issues, but issues that affect everyone in Baldwin County.”
As far as infrastructure is concerned, the agenda supports “continued advocacy and accountability for improvements, development and adequate funding of Baldwin County’s roads and bridges,” including investment in a new Interstate 10 bridge and Bayway project. While she was interviewed before the Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) voted to endorse a new bridge project last week, Williams said a solution is needed, however it is accomplished.
“When you look at many of our business community members, their markets are Baldwin and Mobile counties, so we’re looking at it not only from a local standpoint, but also on the economic development impact of being able to locate a business in Baldwin County,” she said. “Large businesses may look for access to the port and elsewhere in Mobile, so adequate infrastructure and relief from the bottleneck at the tunnels is absolutely critical to many facets.”
Another emphasis has been placed on supporting the “development and availability of housing that will sustain all workforce needs in Baldwin County.”
“We have a lot of seasonal needs, especially in the southern part of the county and to a certain extent the Eastern Shore,” Williams said. “It’s not necessarily low income, but for people who come here for seasonal jobs and entry-level positions that are needed, how do we provide them with adequate housing at a price that is affordable?”
Among other things, the coalition’s agenda also supports legislation that will “support and encourage efforts to recruit large-scale, advanced manufacturing companies to the South Alabama Mega Site” and “support the reauthorization, improvement and extension of proven economic development incentives and tax credits set to expire in 2020.”
Healthcare, environment and quality of life issues supported by the coalition include legislation that may support the Causeway Master Plan, Baldwin County beaches, Mobile Bay and the Tensaw River Delta; programs that will allow increased access to and quality of healthcare and mental wellness for employees and service providers; and protecting the business community in discussions regarding the legalization of medical marijuana.
“We want the legislators to know our goals, so with the agenda, they have direction as to whether an issue is important, how important it is, and when they see something, they know where our people stand,” Williams said. “We’re just excited as a whole we can represent the larger business community’s voice and instead of having five legislative agendas, we can come together and put together one.”2020BaldwinCountyChambersLegislativeAgenda
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