Asia Trip “A Success”; But Now Shoals Leaders Focus on Home

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Photo Credit: Alabama Department of Commerce

FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – An effort to draw in more jobs to the Shoals area has now gone international with a recent trip by government leaders to Asia.

The mayors of Florence and Muscle Shoals just returned from a 10-day recruitment tour to South Korea and Japan.

In his office Friday morning, Florence mayor Mickey Haddock showed off some of the literature a Shoals economic group picked up while visiting companies in Asia who have already picked the Shoals to expand their business.

During a visit to South Korea, the Shoals group joined an Alabama Department of Commerce delegation to foster relationships with companies there.

While in Japan, Shoals leaders wanted to thank the company owners like North American Lighting and TASUS for locating in northwest Alabama.

“Really encouraged them, that was the key,” explained Haddock. “We really encouraged them to foster the relationship, that if they were looking to grow in any of their areas, then we wanted to assist them in doing that.”

As Haddock was boarding a plane to Asia, he received the news Hillshire Brands was shutting down their Florence operation and 1,100 employees would be without a job by the end of the year.

Haddock said he was really torn about whether to go on the trip to Asia or not.

But to fill the void with jobs being lost, Haddock says he owed it to the workers to pull in more jobs by going on the trip.

“It was very important to continue to go after more jobs. That’s got to be our number one concern each and every day. We have to continue to strive to put ourselves at the forefront and seeking jobs to come to our area,” stated Haddock.

With recent jobs announcements and companies moving to the Shoals area, Haddock is hopeful most of the workers being displaced will be able to find work at other manufacturers.

Since arriving back in the shoals on Thursday, Haddock said he has already started meeting with Hillshire executives to coordinate job fairs and work force retraining opportunities for the displaced workers.