LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. — The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced they will be leaving the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) threshold of 50,000 in place.
There are 12 MSA’s in the state. Here in North Alabama, that includes Florence, Muscle Shoals, and Decatur.
“A considerable amount of funding goes to MSAs for things like public housing, for infrastructure, for business development, for all kinds of different initiatives,” said Samuel Mashburn with the Shoals Chamber of Commerce.
Those budget distributions are based on population. Several months back, the OMB was looking at raising the MSA threshold from the population of 50,000 to 100,000 which would cut funding for many of those areas.
The OMB announced they will not be raising the threshold on Tuesday, July 13.
Mashburn is the Public Policy and Governmental Relations Director for the Shoals Chamber, and he says the MSA status is more than just funding.
“Businesses want to go to places that are growing, places that are thriving,” said Mashburn. “And typically, there’s a designation that if an area is an MSA, they are essentially an area that has a population base to be able to support a large retail market and that sort of thing.”
Now, cities and counties in the Shoals are able to continue counting on federal funding. Mashburn says this is in part thanks to Shoals-area leaders traveling to DC.
“We went to DC in April with our Mayors of the four cities of the Shoals, as well as business owners from the Shoals,” he added. “We were able to speak to both members of Congress and our US Senators… Even though this is not a congressional issue, congressional pressure was able to help the voice of folks in the Shoals and across North Alabama be heard and ultimately, that was able to help sway the White House to make the decision they made.”
U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville released a statement Wednesday, following the OMB announcement:
“This is a victory for folks in Florence, Muscle Shoals, Decatur, Gadsden, Anniston, Oxford, Auburn, Opelika, Dothan, Daphne, Fairhope, and Foley. Keeping the designation at 50,000 ensures that critical funding streams will not be cut off for vital programs. Since OMB first announced the proposal to double the threshold, I have been speaking with Alabamians about the detrimental impact it would have on their communities, and I am glad that it never came to fruition.”U.S. Sen. Tuberville (R)
The MSA threshold will remain at 50,000 for at least the next decade. In 2030, the OMB may look at restructuring it again.