Shelby County named No. 18 in U.S. for job growth

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Shelby County was recently named one of the best counties in the country for job growth over the past decade by CNN Money, and Alabaster and Pelham were named major contributors to the county’s double-digit job growth.

In CNN Money’s list of “Where the jobs are,” which listed the top 25 counties for job growth between 2000 and 2010, Shelby County was reported as having a 32.6 percent job growth during the 10-year period. Shelby County was listed as No. 18 in the list.

According to the website, the county’s major employers include the Shelby County School District, Regions Bank and Walmart.

“Professional services are expected to gain most (in the next five years), with about 1,300 jobs that will pump more than $91 million into the local economy,” read the CNN report.

“That’s a win-win for us,” said state Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster. “When you see 10 percent unemployment numbers statewide, this kind of thing is a really good sign for our community.”

Alabaster Mayor David Frings said a combination of safety, a high quality of living and a business-friendly environment has helped Shelby County draw more jobs over the past 10 years.

“It’s not just any one thing. It’s a combination of several different factors,” Frings said. “Businesses like safety and security. I have heard that over and over again.”

Frings said the services and amenities offered by Shelby County and its municipalities draw a well-educated workforce, which is attractive to business owners.

Frings also said the social options available in Shelby County, such as recreational activities and nightlife, also draw employees, and employers as a result.

“When you generate that kind of population, they are going to look for amenities and services like Alabaster offers,” Frings said. “In high-crime areas, people don’t want to live there and companies don’t want to locate there.”

However, the CNN report also said Shelby County has had “trouble handling its expanded population,” and specifically referred to the debate over upgrading the U.S. 280 corridor.

“As congested as it gets sometimes, we have a very strong north-south corridor with I-65. 280 is still facing some issues,” Frings said. “You’ve got to be able to move people and goods around.”