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Opinion | Shelby’s leadership demands recognition

By George Clark
President, Manufacture Alabama

Alabama is experiencing an unprecedented era of growth and progress as major industrial and manufacturing interests recognize the value of locating in our beautiful state. Recent announcements from the automotive, aerospace, and other industries herald a new day for Alabama.

In the past year alone, about $5 billion in new investments in the state and 12,000 new jobs have been announced by international firms on their way to Alabama. While this is fantastic news for the industrial and business communities, it is also great news for the working families of Alabama. The state unemployment rate in December was 3.5%, matching the record low set this past November.

Success like this does not happen overnight and it does not happen accidentally. Hard working public servants and civic leaders all across Alabama have toiled long and hard to build the foundation of this success. They all deserve credit.

But there is one person in particular upon whose shoulders our success has been lifted. Alabama’s senior Senator Richard Shelby has nourished the economic well-being of this state for nearly four decades. From the aerospace and defense industries in the Tennessee Valley, to the Port of Mobile, to the bio-tech enterprises of Birmingham, Senator Shelby has provided the leadership and foundation for growth. Alabama’s major research universities from Tuscaloosa to Auburn to Birmingham to Huntsville are playing robust roles in building our state, with the guiding hand of Richard Shelby clearly visible in support of these institutions.

Simply put, Richard Shelby is a legend and his leadership has helped strengthen Alabama’s future for generations to come.

So, it is with bewilderment that I have heard that some members of Alabama’s Republican party leadership are contemplating a party resolution censuring Richard Shelby for the position he took in the recent special election for the U.S. Senate in Alabama. Senator Shelby was absolutely true to his party allegiance while at the same time remaining true to his conscience and his moral beliefs. In fact, Richard Shelby displayed a personal courage and commitment to principle that demands admiration and appreciation, not censure.

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It is said that “a prophet is not without honor except in his own country.” Senator Richard Shelby is recognized by leaders across America and around the world for his accomplishments over the past 40 years. Surely, he deserves that same recognition and deference from the state Republican Party which has benefited greatly from his tenure.

George Clark is the president of Manufacture Alabama.

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