The city of Scottsboro and Jackson County have joined the Rural Accelerator Program administered by Opportunity Alabama. The program assists rural and low-income communities in building the economic infrastructure to deal with the current Coronavirus pandemic.

“We are excited for the opportunity of showcasing Jackson County and all our assets,” said Nathan Lee, project manager for the Jackson County Economic Development Authority, in a press release. “Jackson County is centrally located between Huntsville and Chattanooga and we are ready for business!”

Despite the coronavirus, Jackson County has seen growth in a number of industries and tax revenue areas. Members of the Jackson County Commission discussed how they expect revenue from these industries to continue to increase over the next year at the final budget hearing on Aug. 24.

“We were impressed with the capacity Jackson County demonstrated for economic growth, even in the midst of the current national crisis,” said Opportunity Alabama CEO, Alex Flachsbart.

The program works by connecting members of the community and local government to with community members and other economic organizations. They also work to foster business relationships and develop new planning to help encourage economic growth.

According to Opportunity Alabama’s website, the process takes roughly 6-8 weeks and provides the community with various end products that address strategy development, data analysis, network development marketing materials for the community and to promote investment opportunities.

The first step of the program is a short survey that will help all those involved to better understand how the community has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey, which contains roughly 20 questions, can be found on the Facebook pages of all of those involved and asks questions about how the individual feels their community is doing economically as well as what they feel their community needs in terms of development in the future.

“We see this moment – where communities are setting aside their differences to work together on recovery – as a chance to put lasting infrastructure in place to improve local economies,” said Flachsbart. “To us, the question Is not: how do we reopen over the next 203 months? Rather, it is: how do we leverage this moment to build a stronger economic foundation over the next 6-24 months?”

The project is a partnership between the City of Scottsboro, Jackson County, Jackson County Economic Development Authority, Main Street Scottsboro, the Mountain Lakes Chamber of Commerce, Impact Learning and TARCOG.

Jackson County was one of six counties selected in the organization’s first round announced on June 18. Opportunity Alabama has been recognized by a number of national outlets for its work in assisting communities develop new economic resources.

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