Decatur’s Jeremy Nails wins top Alabama economic development award

Decatur’s Jeremy Nails wins top Alabama economic development award
Morgan County's Jeremy Nails stands with Gov. Kay Ivey after winning the David R. Echols Award, the state's top economic development award. (Sydney A. Foster/Governor's Office)

Jeremy Nails of Morgan County was named the recipient of the David R. Echols Distinguished Service Award, the top honor for economic development professionals in Alabama.

Nails, president and CEO of the Morgan County Economic Development Association, was selected by the Alabama Department of Commerce for the award that is presented annually at the Economic Development Association of Alabama winter conference.

It is given in honor of David Echols, a senior project manager at the Department of Commerce who set a high standard for economic development in the state. Honorees demonstrate the highest ideals of professionalism and character.

Nails said he was honored to be chosen.

“When I started my career in economic development, Dave not only became a mentor, but he quickly became a good friend,” Nails said in accepting the award. “He pushed you to never lose your integrity, focus on the details when working a project, be over-prepared for a prospect visit and be better than your competition.

“He made me a better economic developer, and I think he would be proud of how Alabama’s economic development community is performing today.”

‘Big impact’

Award recipients exhibit professionalism, integrity and persistence, all qualities that defined Echols in his distinguished career, said Jim Searcy, EDAA’s executive director.

“Jeremy has done a lot for Morgan County, and regionally, he’s had a big impact as well,” Searcy said. “He’s the epitome of a professional economic developer. He’s embraced technology, and at the same time, he’s balanced technology with the necessity of having those personal relationships that make economic development possible.”

The EDAA winter conference was held earlier this week in Hoover.

In 2017, Morgan County ranked No. 2 in Alabama for new industry investments, reporting a total of $516.3 million that year, according to Alabama Department of Commerce data. A major 2018 project was GE Appliances’ expansion of its refrigerator plant in Decatur involving a $115 million investment and 255 new jobs.

Situated along the Tennessee River, the county has been a longtime hub of industry for the state.

Much of the growth in recent years has come in the aerospace sector, with new and expanding projects valued at more than $336 million in 2017 alone. Projects announced by Dynetics Inc., United Launch Alliance and Hexcel combined for a total of 113 new jobs.

Previous winners of the Echols award include Forrest Wright, president of the Shoals Economic Development Authority, and David Knight, executive director of the Walker County Development Authority.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.

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