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City hires retail, industrial recruiter


City of Atmore officials have taken steps to fill two of the city’s biggest needs — more retail businesses in the downtown area and a larger manufacturing presence in Rivercane Industrial Park.

Officials are banking on the abilities of Tucson Roberts, a retail and industrial recruiter who has enjoyed success in other Alabama municipalities and counties, to help fill those needs.

Mayor Jim Staff said the city contracted with Roberts, and the economic development expert has hit the ground running.

“He’s on board already,” said Staff, who pointed out that Roberts is working as a consultant to the city, not as a city employee. “He’s working part-time with us, meeting with business and industry leaders on a regular basis. He promised us eight hours a week, and he has spent a lot more than that during the weeks he has been here.”

Roberts is certainly no newcomer to the economic development community. He is the former Dean of Aviation and Workforce Development at the Alabama Aviation Center in Ozark, where he was also special assistant to the center’s president, and he was president of Covington County Economic Development Corp. for more than 10 years.

He also spearheaded and still works with the city of Madison, which was recently named by Niche.com as the “Best Place to Live in Alabama,” and is assisting Lowndes County with its economic development effort.

“He has a lot of contacts; he knows just about everybody,” said Staff, who added that Roberts is working closely with Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce and Coastal Gateway Regional Economic Development Alliance to devise a plan for retail and industrial recruitment to the city. “He’s had several meetings with the Chamber folks, he’s met with Coastal Gateway and he’s met with several of the area’s industrial leaders.”

Roberts has said in the past that he feels Alabama could become one of the nation’s — and the world’s — hubs of aerospace manufacturing.

“Everybody I’ve talked to says he’s good at what he does,” Staff said. “I’m hoping he can do some good for us. I feel like he will.”