Alabama mayors meet in Huntsville to share economic development strategies

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – At the Embassy Suites in Huntsville, the Madison Room, perhaps ironically, has a reserved sign for the City of Huntsville.

Mayor Tommy Battle addresses a gaggle of media,  “We’d like to welcome everybody here!”

Mayor Battle stands flanked by other mayors from all over the state. He explains, “This is our fifth meeting, where we’ve met across the state and talked about issues that are affecting localities.”

Think back to the AUSA conference in Huntsville, we saw experts in military tech come from all over to talk shop.

This is the same idea. There’s just a lot fewer people who know the ins and outs of “mayoring” in Alabama.

Mayor Walt Maddox of Tuscaloosa says, “From a mayor standpoint, this is a great opportunity for us to collaborate, because I believe that the real innovation within government doesn’t occur in Montgomery, it doesn’t occur in DC, it occurs right at the local level.”

The guests to Huntsville bring a little flattery with them.

Maddox glows, “A few months ago when we were thinking about, ‘Where should we go to discuss economic development,’ the obvious and clear choice was Huntsville.’ ”

Battle elaborates on the purpose of this particular gathering, “It is all about jobs and how we could set up a standard of living that is a very good standard of living for each of our communities.”

The agenda boils down to one idea, summarized by Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson, “It comes down to selling your community, convincing somebody that you’re the place that they want to be located.”

With a little coffee and the soothing tones of the lobby fountain to ease the task, they hope to leave here with a potent set of blended ideas.

Battle encapsulates the idea, “We’re taking what Tuscaloosa’s done, what Mobile’s done, what Montgomery’s done, what Dothan’s done, and we’re able to say they’re able to address this in a way that maybe we haven’t thought about.”