4 things you need to know about Shelby County’s plan for growth

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Shelby County’s 2020 career readiness volunteers recognized at the chamber’s annual Industry Appreciation Reception. Photo courtesy of The Shelby County Chamber

Just south of Birmingham is Alabama’s fastest-growing county (according to the last census). Odds are, many of you reading this live, work or at least spend time in Shelby County. The county chamber is currently in the middle of an ambitious five-year plan. Here are four things you need to know.

1) The five-year plan for growth is ShelbyOne Next Level Up!.

Photo courtesy of The Shelby County Chamber

In 2017, The Shelby County Chamber adopted a business-driven strategic plan to achieve two main goals: 

  1. Draw businesses to the area and keep them there
  2. Develop the next generation of workforce 

Local business and community leaders helped them do this.

2) The plan includes four parts.


Shelby County students in the Ready to Work elective toured Taziki’s last fall and learned from founder Keith Richards. Photo via the Shelby County Chamber on Facebook

1) Business support and development: help existing businesses continue to grow. 

“As important as recruitment is, helping your existing business continue to grow is what really helps your marketplace.”

Kirk Mancer, president & CEO, Shelby County Chamber 

2) Recruit “new to market” retail, commercial and industrial businesses: partner with 58 Inc., a Shelby County economic development organization, on a strategy focused on recruiting new businesses to the area. (For those wondering where the name came from, all license plates issued in Shelby County start with 58). 

3) Business-driven career readiness: engage with local schools to launch career readiness programs for ninth through twelfth-grade students. 

“Our Chamber’s efforts over the past five years in collaborating with schools throughout Shelby County have been extremely positive. But, the initiatives spelled out in ShelbyOne Next Level Up! demonstrate we’re not resting on our laurels. We’re forging new priorities and partnerships across Shelby County and helping to blaze new trails towards workforce readiness.”

Keith Richards, Taziki’s Mediterranean Café

4) Business advocacy: act as a voice for businesses in Shelby County with state, local and federal officials (while not endorsing candidates or forming a political action committee).

3) Training the future workforce is a critical component.

Preparing the next generation. Photo courtesy of The Shelby County Chamber

Workforce development is a huge component of The Shelby County Chamber’s five-year plan. In their high school years, Shelby County students are enrolled in programming that prepares them for future jobs. More than 75 businesses, including Vulcan Materials Company, are actively engaging with these students during a critical time as they think about their futures.

With operations in Shelby County, Vulcan is proud to partner with the Shelby County Chamber and its Education Foundation to better prepare high school students with essential skills necessary to effectively enter the workforce.

“Ninth through twelfth graders are our future workforce. We are focusing on career readiness—not necessarily for four-year degrees. Our programming directly relates to business development and support.”

Kirk Mancer, president & CEO, Shelby County Chamber 

The workforce development programs are focused on soft skills like communication, but there are also registered apprenticeship programs for IT, industrial maintenance and welding. 

Students in their senior year have the opportunity to enroll in a Ready to Work elective. Upon successful completion of the course, students receive two certificates—one from the Alabama Department of Commerce and one from the U.S. Department of Labor. They also earn a scholarship for additional training at a two-year institution in the state of Alabama!

“The importance of the chamber’s role in partnering with our schools and other training providers cannot be overemphasized. Through ShelbyOne Next Level Up! we’ll continue to make major strides in preparing our students with the necessary skills they’ll need to fuel our Shelby County workforce of the future.”

Mechelle Wilder, ARC Realty

4. Recognizing teachers & students is also a priority.

2019 scholarship and stipend recipients. Photo courtesy of the Shelby County Chamber

Shelby County is also recognizing rockstars in the classroom with a student and educator of the year program. At the end of the school year, awards are presented to a career-ready student, college-ready student and an educator from an elementary, middle and high school. The three students each receive a thousand-dollar scholarship, and the three educators are each awarded a thousand-dollar stipend. 

Find Out More

The Shelby County Courthouse in Columbiana. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

For more information on ShelbyOne NextLevel Up!, visit the chamber’s website

“This strategic plan is business and community-driven. All of these efforts truly are based upon the strong collaborative spirit that people have here in Shelby County. We’re not going to agree on everything, but we can come together and help to make our businesses successful.”

Kirk Mancer, president & CEO, Shelby County Chamber 

Do you live or work in Shelby County? How have you seen businesses and job opportunities grow? Let us know @BhamNow!

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