County has jobs; now U.S. 280 needs main focus

Last month, while the state’s unemployment rate rose to 10 percent, Shelby County’s rate saw a significant decline to 7 percent, which bodes well for the county’s ability to stay relatively stable in an uncertain economic climate.

That unemployment rate, as well as the county’s excellent schools and amenities will surely draw even more job seekers here, which will help the county’s housing market and bring even more money into the local economy.

CNN Money magazine apparently sees the same positives as we do, judging by Shelby County’s inclusion on the magazine’s list of “Where the jobs are.” Shelby County was listed as No. 18 out of 25 counties nationwide.

CNN Money believes the county will add about 1,300 jobs in professional services alone in the next five years, which would pump more than $91 million into the county’s economy.

While CNN Money was generally complimentary of the county’s growth, the magazine did raise one major concern: traffic congestion and infrastructure.

The magazine said the county has had problems handling the population growth and specifically referred to U.S. 280 as a problem spot. As we have said numerous times, there is a gigantic need to improve U.S. 280, and quickly — our current population has a hard time getting around on that road, and it looks like the county’s growth won’t stop anytime soon.

The support is there for an elevated toll road plan, but ALDOT must move quickly. If not, Shelby County’s continued growth and economic stability could be stunted — and once that happens, it’ll be hard to get back on top again.

The We Say is the opinion of the Shelby County Reporter editorial board.