Economic Update: The Power of Relationships
By: Vice President of Economic Development and Legal Affairs Cleve Poole
Ask anybody that works in Economic Development and they will tell you, “It’s a relationship business.” Pioneer Electric Cooperative, Inc. serves rural areas, mostly “off the beaten track” of the usual spots that industries view as being potential sites for locating new factories. Therefore, to get on the list of potential sites for prospective companies looking to land in Alabama, it is vital to know all of the folks who are contacted by prospects, and the better the relationship, the greater the odds that Pioneer’s service territory will be in the mix when an opportunity arises. One of Pioneer’s relationships is with the Butler County Commission for Economic Development (BCCED), and its Executive Director, David Hutchison.
The BCCED, works to bring jobs to Butler County and recently hosted a “Breakfast with Industries,” event that Hutchison promotes as one way to say “thank you” to existing industry for the jobs they create and their investment in Butler County. According to Hutchison, “It’s important to keep in touch with local employers and let them know that we stand ready to assist them with problems and just let them know that we appreciate them!”
The event was attended by local industries, local political leaders, and representatives from utilities, banks and the Alabama Department of Commerce. Attendees had an opportunity to network and meet new people. “We sponsor these events to give our state and local economic development partners a chance to get to know our local employers and create relationships that can result in problems being solved or avoided down the road,” Hutchison said. It also gives state economic developers a glimpse at the teamwork within Butler County. “When our friends from the Department of Commerce know that we can work together within Butler County, they are more likely to send prospects our way,” say Hutchison.
Sometimes, the new relationships mean new business. At a Built In Butler County event (an annual expo for local 10th graders to expose them to local industry) held a couple of years ago, one local industry realized that another Greenville company made products that the local industry was buying from a competitor in Mississippi. That new relationship resulted in more business for the local manufacturer, and less expense for their new business partner. “These are the types of relationships we want to build and the types of opportunities we want to present,” says Hutchison. Had it not been for the event sponsored by the BCCED and its local partners, the connection would never have been made.
Pioneer works hard to develop relationships with local economic developers and other strategic partners throughout the areas it serves. As we continue to build relationships, we will continue to build our cooperative and provide jobs for our members.