August 21, 2017

More than 20,000 new jobs and 8,200 miles on the truck.

It was an early alarm on last Tuesday morning so we could leave Huntsville at 4:30 a.m. to speak to the Breakfast Rotary Club in Birmingham. But it was well worth it.

We had a great conversation with 65 people, and one of the topics that kept coming up was, “What would you do to change the state’s image, to make sure people in other parts of the country have a positive image of the state of Alabama?”

Sometimes, that bothers me when people say that. A lot of times we get down ourselves because we hear the things about being 49th or 50th in things like education and health.

But in my travels across the state, I’m reminded we’ve got a great state and a great group of people. We have leadership in different sections who are looking for a better city, a better county, a better state. We need to accentuate the positives of what we have. I wear a lapel pin here that says, “Huntsville. A Smart Place.” One day, and by working together, it will say “Alabama. A Smart Place.”

All that starts with jobs. We’ve brought in 20,000 new jobs to Huntsville and that’s led to $1.2 billion in investments that we’ve been able to use to help improve our roads and transform our schools.

Imagine if you could do the same thing and add 20,000 jobs in every congressional district over a 10-year period. That’d be 140,000 new jobs for the state of Alabama and then you’re talking about billions of dollars coming in to stimulate the Alabama economy.

Those billions of dollars help take care of the problems of education, prisons, the mental health situation, Medicaid – all those issues where we’re lagging and which impact the way some people see us.

The biggest answer to changing our image, of course, is changing the culture in Montgomery and those people who have spent decades in the state capitol without making moving us forward. It’s time for fresh leadership in Montgomery, somebody who hasn’t been a part of the controversies and embarrassments. One of the things I say to supporters who ask what they can do to help our campaign is this: “What would you pay to change to have a positive image of Alabama?”

I’m determined to help change that image, to improve education and bring in more jobs. We’ve done it in Huntsville and, like I told the Rotarians, we can move a state just as well as we can a city. I hope you’ll work alongside me to do so, whether to send money to support the effort, to email a friend and talk about our track record or stick a decal on your car. We can make a change.