LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Alabama Governor Robert Bentley attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday morning at the Alabama Robotics Technology Park in Tanner. The event was to commemorate the completion of the facility’s third phase.
The focus, though, once again turned to the ongoing turmoil surrounding the governor. Last Tuesday, Alabama Rep. Ed Henry, R-Hartselle, and three other state representatives said they began the impeachment process, calling for the governor to resign from the office.
Monday, Bentley continued to address these claims, saying he has done nothing unlawful.
“I have no plans to step down,” Bentley said. “We have done nothing illegal and we have no plans to step down. Impeachment, there is no basis for that, absolutely no basis at all. We have done absolutely nothing illegal.”
Senator Arthur Orr also attended the event and added that the articles of impeachment have not been adopted. He also said that he is unaware of any formal hearings in the House. Despite this, Orr said that members of the Senate could be involved in any possible proceedings.
“We need to be very guarded in our comments in the Senate. We will serve as potential jurors, if there are articles adopted by the House of Representatives,” he said. “The Senate would serve as potential jurors and for that reason we are not commenting on any of the allegations or investigations or anything going on in the House.”
Bentley also acknowledged that an investigation is ongoing, but that he is not the focus of it.
“There are things that are being investigated. Not me, but there are things that are being investigated as a part of this that will come out with time,” he said. “We just can’t talk about that right now because I know the things, but I just can’t I can’t talk about them because they’re being investigated by the Attorney General on other subjects.”
“I’m here today to talk about job creation and that’s what we’re going to talk about,” Bentley said. “We’re very proud of our record. I think the people of the state should be proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish and we’re going to continue working hard for the people because that’s why were here.”
As for whether these allegations could have any impact on the state’s economy, Bentley argued they don’t.
“Businesses come here so that their company can survive and thrive and make a profit and that’s why they come,” he said. “They don’t come because of politics, and so as long as we provide that for them, and that’s what we’re going to do, companies will come.”
Bentley added that the facilities at the Alabama Robotics Technology Park are exactly what will attract more job growth throughout the state.
“This fits perfectly with what we’ve been trying to do,” he said.
The Robotics Technology Park is a collaboration among the state, the Alabama Community College System, the Department of Commerce, AIDT and robotics industry leaders across the nation. The site, along U.S. Highway 31 in Tanner, consists of three individual training facilities, each targeted to a specific industry need.
The Phase III facility will be called the “Integration, Entrepreneurial and Paint/Dispense Training Center.” Alabama companies will be able to use the center to introduce new technologies into their existing manufacturing lines, including trouble-shooting, product integration and training. The 52,000-square-foot facility will allow small companies to further develop their business venture or create a new business venture relating to robotics and automation technologies.
“When we have manufacturing prospects in this area, we bring them to the RTP and they are literally blown away,” said Orr. These out-of-state companies look to locate here because of this facility and the vision that the state has had in having a facility that’s found nowhere else in the world.”
The new facility cost roughly $9 million and is expected to be up and running before the end of the summer. The three buildings have a total investment of approximately $73 million, including robotics equipment.
The ceremony also happened to coincide with the National Robotic Arc Welding Conference, which featured college students from throughout north Alabama.
“This is about bringing businesses here so those young people have jobs in the future,” said Orr. “It’s been successful already and now that we’re finished with all of the different phases the attitude is ‘watch out’ because were going to be certainly open for business and for training workers in advanced manufacturing.”
The RTP also owns 40 undeveloped acres adjacent to its facilities. Officials say there are no definite plans for the land. They will wait to see what the future needs are for the company.