July 23, 2009 10:24:00 AM
A visit yesterday from a delegation from Guntersville, Ala., only served to remind us of the many assets of this place many of us call home. The group, comprised of public officials and involved citizens, spent a day in Columbus on a fact-finding exchange.
The 50-member group, hosted by the Link and the Chamber, spent the morning viewing industrial development near Golden Triangle Regional Airport. They enjoyed a Link-hosted lunch at the Country Club with local citizens and an industrial development pep-talk from our uber-industrial developer Joe "Take no prisoners" Higgins. In the afternoon the group toured the Riverwalk and downtown apartments.
"You heard about where our city is headed, and it''s something Columbus has already achieved," Ben Hulgan, vice president of the Marshall County, Ala., Chamber of Commerce, said. "It''s good for all of us to come here and look at a place that has already done what we are looking to do."
These sorts of visits are good for a community, for the visitors as well as the hosts. Both groups benefit from the exchange of ideas and the relationships forged in such encounters. Columbus officials have benefited from similar hospitality in Columbus, Ga., and Chattanooga, Tenn.
Guntersville, about 8,500 population, is sited on lake of the same name in North Alabama, about 40 miles southeast of Huntsville. The town finds itself in the same shape as Columbus was 15 years ago, with a neglected downtown filled with historic architecture in need of vision and commitment. It''s nice to be considered a role model for another community and our downtown property owners, present and past, and the organizations responsible are to be applauded.
Let us not rest on our laurels, though. A strong, vibrant community should always be a collective work in progress. Let us continue to burnish and preserve what is good here; let us continue to improve the quality of life opportunities and let us continue to be the gracious hosts we were Wednesday.
Melissa Cook of the Chamber and Higgins and the Link staff are to be commended for their hospitality. Surely good things will come of this if they''ve not already.