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Schools among employers selling city at BRAC fair

By Eric Fleischauer 340-2435

For Jeanne Payne, a home-run ball at last week's BRAC job fair would have been hiring a teacher with International Baccalaureate training or foreign language skills, but she and other area employers were content to keep the ball in play.

Payne, director of curriculum of Decatur City Schools, represented the system at an Arlington, Va., job fair aimed at spouses of those relocating to Redstone Arsenal in connection with the Base Realignment and Closure process.

Twenty-five North Alabama companies had booths at the fair. From Decatur, in addition to Decatur City Schools, the Morgan County Economic Development Association and BP Chemical-Decatur Works participated.

No one applied for a teaching job, Payne said, but several expressed interest.

"When you reach one person, they might tell five others," Payne said. "A job for a spouse could make the difference in whether a family will decide to relocate to Alabama."

She said the best part of this and previous BRAC recruiting trips is the building of relationships.

"Every time I go on these trips. I come back feeling good," she said.

"We realize there is no difference between someone who lives in Virginia and someone who lives in Decatur."

She said selling Decatur to others reminds her how good life is here.

"It's easy to sell. I always return feeling good about Decatur," she said. "It makes me realize what a great quality of life we have here."

She said she talked to one couple who already had looked at a Decatur house. The wife was initially frustrated at her husband's interest.

"She said 'Why would we want such a big house,' and her husband said, 'But did you see the price?' " Payne recalled.

The sharp contrast between the cost of living in Decatur and the Arlington area makes for a better quality of life, Payne said. Decatur's low cost of living is one of the most attractive aspects of relocating for many Arlington-area residents who work at the Missile Defense Agency, the Army Materiel Command and the Space & Missile Defense Agency.

Payne said about 100 attended the job fair.

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