Sep. 8—Anniston Mayor Jack Draper, with the expected passage of an annual city budget in sight, says the numbers that are being reported to city officials about Anniston's economic growth is positive and he expects them to remain that way.
"Anniston is on the move and open for business, more and more people are interested in moving back into Annniston, something that we're very pleased about and we expect the momentum to continue," he said. "I absolutely expect it to continue," the mayor said.
In a Tuesday news release the city announced a list of economic and demographic achievements including infrastructure, quality of life and upcoming capital projects.
Jackson Hodges, Anniston's public relations director, said the purpose of the news release was to showcase city officials' financial stewardship over public funds and how recent improvements had led to economic gains that are reflected by the numbers over time.
Hodges said this growth has been possible thanks to residents' participation, staff dedication and upstanding community partners such as the Calhoun County Commission, Anniston Housing Authority, Alabama Power, and many more.
Hodges said that Anniston has made headlines by offering its residents a lifestyle that's described as both vibrant and affordable.
"With overall housing costs a remarkable 41 percent lower than the national average, the city has become a symbol of cost-effective living, attracting individuals and families seeking financial stability," Hodges said.
Hodges said that Anniston was named the 7th most affordable U.S. city to live in by Kiplinger (6th in 2022) and the 10th most affordable small city to do business in by Business Facilities Magazine for 2023.
New business & historic construction
Hodges said that over the past five years, Anniston has seen a surge in entrepreneurial spirit, issuing more than 100 new business licenses annually. He said that more than $41.1 million has been invested in residential and commercial construction contracts in 2023. This represents an impressive 18.5 percent increase from the previous year, marking the largest construction investment in over a decade, if not in the city's history, Hodges said.
Thriving revenue streams
"The city's economic momentum is further underscored by our growth in sales tax revenues over the last five years, boasting an impressive 27 percent increase since 2015. General Fund revenues have experienced a similar upward trajectory, rising by 23 percent during the same period," Hodges said.
Hodges said these statistics demonstrate Anniston's solid fiscal management and the commitment of its residents to invest in their community.
A vision for the future
Hodges said a series of transformative capital projects, totaling well over $20 million, are slated for completion later in 2023 to early 2024.
— Leighton Avenue paving
— Noble Street Park
— Affordable housing initiatives with the Anniston Housing Authority (Barber Terrace and the future South Allen Duplex Apartments)
— Expansion of the Anniston Regional Fire Training Center
— Playground and splash pad upgrades at city parks
Ongoing projects include:
— Force Factory expansion at the Anniston Museums & Gardens
— The Martha Vandervoort Center to end Homelessness
— The Dr. Satcher & St. Michael's Health Clinic
— The City Market
— Chief Ladiga Trail extension
"These investments underscore Anniston's dedication to community growth and prosperity," Hodges said.
Staff writer Bill Wilson: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @bwilson_star.