- Stay Local
How does Pensacola, Alabama sound? Well, get used to hearing it. The Pensacola City Council and the Escambia County Commission have passed a joint resolution asking that Mobile and the state of Alabama annex the county and its largest city.
"Everything is brighter in Alabama," Mayor John Fogg tells his fellow elected officials. "Mobile is bursting at its seams. Northrup Grumman has been awarded a $40- billion contract to build the new Air Force Refueling Tanker. They already have ThyssenKrupp Steel Mill, Air Bus, a NASCAR track, and a new regional cancer center coming to South Alabama, not to mention all the vendors and sub-contracting companies which attach themselves to all of these industries."
"I'm tired of fighting with Tallahassee and knuckleheads like state Rep. Dave Murzin," County Commission Chairman Mike Whitehead says. "Let Murzin recommend to his fellow lawmakers that the new state anthem be 'Bye, Bye, Bye' by NSYNC."
The county commission offered to change the name of the county to "Escambia 2.0," after rejecting PensaBama and Alacola. However, Escambia 2.0 ensures that there would be no conflicts with Escambia County, Ala.
"It's the least we can do," Commissioner Grover Robinson says. "We will be raking in millions in support from the Alabama Legislature."
Gilchrist, owner of the Florabama Lounge and Package Store, has taken a
conciliatory view to the annexation and has offered to change the name
of his world famous bar to the Bamabama Lounge.
Early this month, Northrop Grumman and European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. were selected over Boeing to supply the Air Force with 179 aerial refueling tankers, KC-45-the second largest Pentagon contract ever. EADS already had a relationship with Mobile. In 2005, EADS, the parent company of European aircraft maker Airbus, selected Mobile over three other Southern sites for a $600 million factory.
EADS went to Mobile because of $120 million in cash and tax incentives from the city, county and state. In return, Mobile gets a potential investment of $600 million from EADS to build its plants and more than 1,000 jobs, paying an average weekly wage of $1,250, double what manufacturing work now pays in Mobile.
In April 2007, ThyssenKrupp AG of Germany announced that Alabama had won out over Louisiana in the high-stakes competition for a 2,700-employee steel mill plant to be built north of Mobile. The Alabama Legislature approved a constitutional amendment to increase the borrowing limit of an economic development bonding authority by $400 million. The state has also earmarked $900 million worth of Gulf Opportunity Zone bonds authorized by Congress.
Designed to spur economic development in Gulf Coast states affected by the 2005 hurricanes, the GO Zone Act allows states to pass on government-rate, tax-free bonding authority to private industry. Florida is not part of the GO Zone, even though, it suffered from Hurricane Dennis.
Alabama Gov. Bob Riley has pledged to work for similar incentives to help Pensacola and Escambia 2.0 create higher paying jobs.
"There is no reason why we can duplicate our Mobile successes in Pensacola," Riley says. "Congressman Jo Bonner (R-Mobile) has already pledged to get Escambia County 2.0 added to the GO Zone Act."
BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE
While Pensacola likes to brag about its healthcare, Mobile is seeing an unprecedented wave of expansion in healthcare services. University of South Alabama trustees recently approved plans for a $50 million-plus expansion of USA Children's & Women's Hospital. The new $75 million Mitchell Cancer Institute should be completed by June.
In Saraland, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family are building the Alabama Motorsports Park, which will be fully operational by 2010. The complex will boast three racing venues: an oval track, a road course and a karting track.
In addition to motorsports, the master plan includes a wide variety of commercial enterprises including residential, hospitality, retail, restaurants and location based entertainment. Former four-term Mobile Mayor Mike Dow is president of the investor group.
Meanwhile, Pensacola still has yet to break ground on its $70 million Vince Whibbs Sr. Community Maritime Park or new downtown public library and relocate the Main Street sewage treatment plant.
"Things move faster in South Alabama," Dow says. "It will be quite an adjustment for city and county officials. We actually get things done in Mobile.
"I hope Pensacola is ready to move out of the Twilight Zone and into the 21st Century," he adds.
So are we, Mike. So are we.
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Who says our local lawmakers are working hard in Tallahassee? Not the IN.