As we approach the final weeks of 2016, we’ve continued to see strong and exciting new projects unfold throughout the county. This month, we’ve been discussing three major developments in health care, education and tourism, in addition to some exciting changes to our team as well.
Thomas Hospital Freestanding Emergency Department
Quality health care facilities are critical when recruiting high quality, well-paying jobs to any area, and Baldwin County is fortunate to have premier, growing health care facilities throughout the county. On October 31, Thomas Hospital, an affiliate of Infirmary Health, broke ground on Baldwin County’s first freestanding emergency department—the third facility of its kind in the state of Alabama. Located in Daphne, the Thomas Hospital Freestanding Emergency Department will fill the gap for emergency care in the Daphne and Spanish Fort area. In addition to being a great community asset, the new ER will lend itself to additional health care-related jobs in Baldwin County, as well an increased economic impact from Thomas Hospital’s investment in the facility. Stay tuned for more on the emergency department, slated to open in 2017.
Auburn University Academic Complex
Auburn University and the City of Gulf Shores announced in October that they are proceeding with plans to build a new educational complex in Gulf Shores. The new 24,000-square-foot building will be constructed at the corner of the Beach Express and County Road 8, and is expected to house a variety of Auburn programs, including a referral center for the College of Veterinary Medicine.
The new complex is part of a larger project entitled the Coastal Alabama Center for Educational Excellence, which will feature state-of-the-art facilities for a new high school, an additional location for Faulkner State Community College, and opportunities for strategic partnerships with four-year universities like Auburn. In addition, the model is expected to expand dual-enrollment and Advancement Placement courses offered to Gulf Shores students, while also providing workforce development programs. The Coastal Alabama Center for Educational Excellence is the result of Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft and the Gulf Shores City Council’s adoption of the Small Town, Big Beach Vision 2025 for Sustainability, which places education as a top priority for the future of the city.
At the beginning of this month, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians also made a significant economic development announcement, unveiling detailed plans for a new tourist destination complex in Foley. The project, entitled “OWA,” which means “big water” in the Muscogee Creek language, will feature an amusement park, hotel and a wide offering of restaurants and shops. The 520-acre development is set to open in the summer of 2017 and holds exciting promise for Baldwin County and southern Alabama. OWA is projected to create nearly 3,500 jobs and boost tourist spending in South Alabama by 7 percent, increasing Baldwin County’s economic output by close to $250 million.
Amidst all the economic development projects happening around Baldwin County, we have an exciting development of our own. Earlier this month, Alex Doleac joined the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance team as project manager to help direct a range of business recruitment projects and to drive further economic growth in the county. Doleac brings to his new role both practical experience and an advanced education in the field, having earned his Master of Science in economic development and tourism from The University of Southern Mississippi. He has also served as project manager for the Economic Development Team at the Area Development Partnership in Hattiesburg. Welcome to the team, Alex!
Stay tuned for more economic development news here, or get in touch with us.