Sometimes lost in the discussions of economic development and other quality-of-life policy initiatives undertaken by the state government are the people that make a lot of economic development possible: U.S. military personnel that are serving the country on installations located in Alabama.
Policymakers in Montgomery have recognized the need to institute measures for those that are serving that make the transition of a move to Alabama easier for them and their families. Without the presence of military installations like Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville or Fort Rucker in Daleville, there could be less motivation for some contractors to maintain a presence in Alabama.
Last month, Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth unveiled the Hero’s Welcome effort that offers military families help when moving to Alabama. During an appearance on Huntsville radio WVNN’s “The Jeff Poor Show” on Thursday, Ainsworth elaborated on some of the offerings of the program.
“One of the great things Governor Ivey did a great job with was a Military Stabilization Commission,” Ainsworth said. “And we have that commission now, and you know, some things we were working on that are pretty cool. Initially, that was started on with BRAC, the Base Realignment Commission, and the bases that stayed here. Now one of the things we’re working on – it’s a neat project called Hero’s Welcome. And the idea is obviously everybody in the military is our heroes. We want to make sure Alabama is the most military-friendly state in the country. So, what are we doing to make sure that is a reality?”
Ainsworth laid out components of the plan, which included license reciprocity for military spouses for certain professions.
“Forty-eight of 50 agencies in the state are complying with that, and the other 2 will be complying next year,” he said. “So, that’s huge.”
Also included in the initiative was the flexibility for military families not to be forced to send their children to failing school districts and would allow children to be sent to a nearby district. In addition to that, it also allows for those children to participate in high school athletics if they attend school outside of the district and not be in violation of the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s rules on recruiting.
Among the future aims of the Hero’s Welcome effort were development zones in the form of sales tax- and property tax-free zones.
“The idea is around these bases where there are some areas of blight to try to bring them back and encourage people to invest,” Ainsworth said.