Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, today announced that Brenda Tuck has been hired as the department’s first rural development manager to help rural counties and communities better compete for job-creating projects.
Tuck previously served in the department’s Workforce Development Division as Regional Workforce Council liaison, working closely with the councils, employers and educators to ensure that the workforce needs of businesses are being met at a local level. Before joining the department in 2016, she served in economic development positions in southwest Alabama, including Marengo, Dallas and Wilcox counties.
“Brenda has extensive experience working on the front lines of economic development in rural Alabama counties, so she knows the specific challenges these areas face when it comes to competing for projects,” Canfield said.
“Her background in both economic and workforce development makes her the ideal choice to help rural communities navigate the economic development process.”
In her new role, Tuck will provide technical assistance to rural communities under consideration for economic development projects, as well as ongoing assistance and training for rural communities seeking to enhance their competitiveness for new investment and jobs.
“Rural communities in Alabama can benefit from having a go-to person who can connect them with the resources they need to improve their economic development prospects,” Tuck said. “I look forward to working with the leaders from rural counties and communities across the state in this important role.”
Tuck served as director of the Marengo County Economic Development Authority between 2012 and 2016, focusing on industrial recruitment and existing industry retention and expansion. While in Linden, she also served as an ambassador for rural issues affecting southwest Alabama and directed a small business incubator.
Before that, Tuck spent seven years as a partner with Alford & Associates LLC, an economic and community development consulting firm in Selma, and five years in economic development at Pioneer Electric Cooperative Inc., also in Selma.
“Brenda will work with our business development team and liaise with our project managers to help us be more successful in rural areas,” said Ted Clem, director of the Business Development Division at the Commerce Department.
“I think having someone on our staff who wakes up every day thinking about the needs of rural Alabama is a great first step that will help us devise future strategies for our team.”
Sparking rural development
The creation of the first-ever rural development manager position in Commerce’s Business Development Division is another step in a broader strategic effort to spur job creation in rural areas across the state.
In July 2015, Alabama began offering enhanced incentives for companies locating qualified projects in rural or “targeted counties.” Since then, 16 projects involving $1 billion in capital investment and nearly 1,400 new jobs in these counties have received incentives through the Alabama Jobs Act.
Earlier this year, the Legislature approved the Alabama Incentives Modernization Act, which increases the number of counties eligible for enhanced incentives.
Commerce is also collaborating with the Economic Development Association of Alabama’s Rural Development Committee to formulate new strategies to promote economic development in the state’s rural areas.
This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.