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Portera says state must use momentum

By Bayne Hughes 340-2432

Alabama is in the middle of historic economic growth and it's got to find ways to continue the momentum, The University of Alabama System Chancellor Malcolm Portera told the Rotary Club of Decatur on Monday.

'Key investments'

"I'm tremendously optimistic about the future of our state," Portera said. "We've got to make the key investments to make sure this success continues."

Portera, who oversees campuses in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and Huntsville with close to 50,000 students combined, said the new automobile industries like Toyota, Honda, Hyundai and the already-established Mercedes-Benz plants are driving the state's thriving economy.

He said North Alabama will benefit from the upcoming Base Realignment and Closure process that could bring more than 4,500 jobs to Redstone Arsenal.

Portera said the state also could benefit from its port and the state docks.

But if the state is to keep the momentum going, Portera said, it must do five things:

  • Create opportunities to keep young people from leaving or bring them back to the state.

  • Raise educational expectations at all levels.

  • Develop energetic partnerships to improve math and science between secondary schools, the two-year college system and four-year universities and colleges.

  • Offer an effective occupational forecast through work-force development and industrial training through the state's community colleges and technical schools.

  • Make a major investment in infrastructure, particularly in technology.

    "For the first time in my career, I feel great about where our state stands (economically)," Portera said.

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