By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
The Senate passed a bill on Thursday projected to produce 600 jobs and $1 billion in infrastructure over the next five years in Tuscaloosa County.
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Bill Roberts (R-Walker). It proposes to offer the same capital incentive plans to the coal industry that are offered to manufacturing. He said, “All we are asking is that the same incentives that apply to other businesses will be able to apply to the coal industry.”
Roberts said that Fayette, Winston, Tuscaloosa, Walker and Jefferson are the largest coal producing counties in the state. He said that there is a project coming, if the bill passes, to North Tuscaloosa County that could bring as many as 600 jobs with a estimated total impact to the area of $700 million.
The immediate impact to Tuscaloosa County would be 450 jobs and a $187 million construction project. Roberts said that within 18 months the jobs could increase as high as a total 650.
“These are good paying jobs that will yield to the economy to the state through sales tax and income tax,” said President Pro tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston).
Adding this many jobs to the area has the potential to reduce unemployment in Tuscaloosa County by as much as one percent. Other counties that could benefit from the project include Jefferson, Walker, Fayette, and Marion.
“This is about the people of this state and particularly the people of your district being allowed to earn a living and support their families because government is not here to create jobs, but we are here to create an environment that creates jobs. I that by doing this we are saying that we as a legislature stand for the ability to create the environment necessary so that the people of Alabama can go back to work,” said Senator Phil Williams (R-Rainbow City).
Williams also reminded his colleagues the this area was ravaged by the tornados back during April of last year. He added, “So, an additional kick to the economy in that area would be a boost to the recovery of that area.”
The bill will be now be sent to the Governor for approval. Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) said, “This bill will fulfill the commitment of the Governor’s office as well.”