I'm writing this blog post in Monroeville, Alabama. Two days ago I spoke at the Economic Summit in Dothan, some way east of here (if my memory serves me right -- this is the first time I've been to Alabama and I don't know its geography). Dothan is preparing to welcome its first ever Chinese delegation and is hoping to land some investment deals.
Yesterday I was taken from Monroeville to Thomasville by the town's mayor, who brought me back at the end of the day after a "real Southern country cooking lunch" (not for slimmers) and a tour of the beautiful town and six industrial estates centered around the timber and pipe industries and taking advantage of rail spurs connected to the Norfolk Southern Railroad that can take exports down to the port of Mobile and northwards as far as Chicago and New York.
Here is Mayor Sheldon Day:
Here's are two pictures of ground being broken on a massive greenfield investment project by the Chinese company Golden Dragon which will add many jobs in the town:
This picture shows timber being sprayed with water to keep it soft for cutting into veneer sheets (look at the left and right ends of the timber pile):
The pipe plant is one of only two in the country that can do complete end-preparation (adding screw threads) and heat treatment. By doing it in one place, transport costs are reduced. Here is the rolled steel sheet waiting to be cut and formed into pipes.
The industries already built and under development look like employing more people than you would expect in a town of 5,000 people. They are likely to bring in twice that number from the surrounding area, reducing unemployment, now well above the national average, in Cook Country.