Jo Bonner addressed South Baldwin business leaders during Leadership Series

By Jessica Vaughn
Posted 10/1/21

FOLEY - Alabama Chief of Staff Jo Bonner spoke at a recent South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce Leadership Series, giving local business leaders a comparison between things happening in Washington DC …

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Jo Bonner addressed South Baldwin business leaders during Leadership Series

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FOLEY - Alabama Chief of Staff Jo Bonner spoke at a recent South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce Leadership Series, giving local business leaders a comparison between things happening in Washington DC and what’s happening in Alabama. Bonner served as the U.S. Representative for Alabama's 1st congressional district for six terms, before leaving to work at the University of Alabama. “I wanted to give a contrast of what we’re seeing in Washington and what we’re seeing here in Alabama,” Bonner said. “And I wanted to do that in a way to kind of focus on what we’ve got to be thankful for … We can be thankful for the food, we can be thankful for the friendship, the fellowship, we can be thankful that even though we had a rough year and a half to two years, that the togetherness of this community and region has helped us get through it all.” Bonner said when comparing Alabama’s numbers to other places nationally, the results can be surprising. “Record unemployment, the governor announced recently that our unemployment had dropped down to 3.2 percent,” said Bonner. “A lot of small businessmen and women say, ‘that’s not possible because we can’t get workers,’ but the fact is that we are close to the record of 2.7 percent which we had last February, February of 2020 was when we reported the lowest unemployment rate in the history of Alabama … It had jumped up to 13.9 percent because of COVID, and so that’s an encouraging sign.” Bonner said along with unemployment rates going down, the state of Alabama created more jobs during 2020 “than any other state in the region.” “In fact, Alabama is leading the southeastern United States for the sixth straight month of recording new jobs and lower unemployment,” said Bonner. “That doesn’t just happen, it happens with good leadership that works collaboratively with people from all walks of government.” Bonner said a large discussion in Alabama’s capital that is currently ongoing concerns the state’s “prison crisis,” as, according to Bonner, some prisons in Alabama are on the verge of closing due to lack of upkeep. “It’s not enough just to build new prisons, we also have to reform the way our inmates are treated because 95 percent of the 22,000 men and women who are in prison today are going to get out of prison one day, and we need to make sure that they have a better life, something to look forward to other than just getting back into that revolving door and going back into prison,” Bonner said. “We need to have rehabilitation programs, education programs, to give them an incentive to choose a different path this time.” Bonner said Baldwin County’s recent growth hasn’t gone unnoticed, and between the RESTORE Act, NFWF grants, Wildlife Federation, and other programs, $777 million has been invested in Mobile and Baldwin Counties to go towards opening local waterways, build new boat ramps, and to ensure that the area maintains its quality of life. “During the last four years, Alabama has created more than 44,000 new jobs and many of those are in Baldwin County, more than $19 billion of new investment, and it’s helped create the best business climate in the nation,” Bonner said. “The most astonishing thing is even with how good of a year we did last year, considering, we’ve got more projects, more companies knocking on our door, more people who know where Alabama is than ever before, we haven’t seen anything like it.” For more on upcoming South Baldwin Chamber events, visit www.southbaldwinchamber.com.