Sylacauga Chamber conducting economic development survey
by Emily McLain
SYLACAUGA — The Chamber of Commerce is currently conducting an economic and commercial development survey to guide future business growth in the area.

The survey asks Chamber members to respond to 16 questions about growth opportunities and hindrances, as well as the roles of various county and city organizations.

Chamber Director Carol Bates said the goal is to get enough feedback to develop a five- to 10-year plan.

“What we want is to use this information to come up with a workable plan on what steps we should take to achieve the goal of moving Sylacauga forward, as far as retail and commercial growth,” Bates said.

In a letter to the Chamber’s roughly 400 members, Committee on Economic and Commercial Development Chairperson Mike Landers said the survey is necessary “to assist us in developing meaningful strategies for future growth and development in Sylacauga. We have chosen to take a broad look at what is right, and wrong, in our local development efforts.”

In the last decade, the Sylacauga area has lost prominent industries and businesses that once provided a plethora of jobs and financial backing for many of the city’s projects and events. It has recently attracted several new industries thanks in large part to calcium carbonate, or marble, which is becoming increasingly popular for industrial use, however, Sylacauga has overall had a negative population growth in the last 50 years.

Landers said he believes the problems that have hampered economic growth in the city are systemic. “By this, I mean that we have never developed a system for economic development that has not been divisive, territorial, informationally non-sharing, and rooted in ‘who’s gonna get the credit,’” he said.

The survey, due July 15, asks business owners what they view as the biggest opportunity for economic and commercial development, the three most obvious impediments to development, the reason for Sylacauga’s population decrease, and the three strongest characteristics Sylacauga has to offer incoming businesses and industries. Along with other topics, it also asks participants to describe the role of the following organizations in economic development: Chamber of Commerce, city government, Industrial Development Board, Talladega County Commission, local state representatives, individual business owners, Talladega County Economic Development Authority, and Sylacauga Utilities Board.

Chamber members are strongly encouraged to respond. Answers may be submitted anonymously or with a name attached. Landers said information gathered by the survey will be “valuable in our committee developing a valid, long-term strategy to promote economic and commercial development.”

For more information on area commerce, contact the Chamber at 256-249-0308.

Contact Emily Adams at

© 2013