Mayor's Minute March 2019: A Message from Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox

Mayor's Minute March 2019: A Message from Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox City of Tuscaloosa

I hope that you have had a moment in recent weeks to review my plan to Elevate Tuscaloosa. I believe this is the most important proposal I have made in my 13 years serving as your mayor. We are in rapidly changing times as local and national forces are reshaping our economic landscape in Tuscaloosa. History demonstrates that it is in the good times that we must aspire to be great.  

In 2004, Blockbuster Video employed 84,300 people worldwide with 9,094 stores. In the past 15 years, Blockbuster has been reduced to two stores. At the height of Blockbuster’s success, they failed to recognize that their model was changing – we will not make the same mistake.  

Today, with the lowest city sales tax and one of the lowest per capita debts in Alabama, Tuscaloosa is successful by most measures. We weathered the Great Recession in the late 2000s and overcame the tragic tornado of April 27, 2011. Even with online sales siphoning off millions of dollars of revenue annually in recent years, Tuscaloosa can maintain status quo for the next decade without any additional revenue increases. However, that is a false choice, because Tuscaloosa’s economic and quality-of-life models are changing for three primary reasons. 

The first variable is the dwindling of America’s brick-and-mortar retail stores due to online sales. Compounding this is the fact that millennials prefer to invest more in experiences than retail goods. Secondly, after years of record-setting student enrollment growth, The University of Alabama has reached its peak for the foreseeable future. Lastly, by 2021, Tuscaloosa will need 5,000 more skilled employees to meet anticipated workforce projections. By 2030, we will require an additional 23,000. 

Understanding this, Elevate Tuscaloosa is focused on creating economic hotspots centered around the experience economy while vastly enhancing education, job development, transit, arts, parks, and recreation. If you haven’t viewed my proposal, I hope you will take time to visit 

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Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.