Anniston, Alabama

2 3 A t the southernmost length of the Blue Ridge, part of the Appala- chian Mountains, sits the town of Anniston, Alabama. Named “The Model City” by Atlanta newspaperman, Henry W. Grady for its care- ful planning in the late 19th century, Anniston was once home to the Woodstock Iron Company, founded in 1872, by Samuel Noble and Union General, Daniel Tyler. The town was chartered in 1873, and was first known as “Annie’s Town” for Annie Scott Tyler, the wife of railroad magnate Alfred L. Tyler. In 1917, at the start of World War I, the U.S. Army established a training camp at Fort McClellan on the northeast side of town. On the other side of town, the Anniston Army Depot, a largely civilian installation, opened during World War II. The Depot still operates today and is the town’s largest employer, with approxi- mately 4,000 workers. However, in 1999, Fort McClellan was disbanded. “We are ANNISTON, ALABAMA what is called a BRAC Community,” says Kent Davis, Anniston’s City Manager. “Fort McClel- lan was closed under the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 1995.” While the closing of the base severely impacted the town’s economic welfare in the first few years after its closure, Davis maintains that it also presented Anniston with a great op- portunity for its eventual redevelopment.“Now, it was a tough economic impact immediately,” he says,“but we pretty much made up for those losses with jobs elsewhere in the economy over the ensuing 16 or 17 years since.” “Any time there’s a base closure, there is a local re-use authority that’s chartered both by the Department of Defense and the state, and we have that here,”he explains.“It’s called the McClellan Development Authority.And it has spent the better part of the last 16 years trying to redevelop Fort McClellan,which was originally almost 40,000 acres in size.And they had pretty good luck in redeveloping the entire base.The Authority works very closely with our office, the City of Anniston Department of Economic Devel- opment.We do joint marketing; we do outreach and presentations together because they’re in the city limits of Anniston.” Even though the Army has departed, the largest new employer out at the old base is still the federal government. “The U.S. Department of Homeland Security operates a training facility called the Center for Domes- tic Preparedness that has over 900 employ- ees,” says Davis. “They train state and local responders from around the country. Another “The plan is, within the next few years, to link all of those bike sys- tems together, so you’ll have about a hundred miles of road bike trails from Atlanta, Georgia, ending at the Amtrak station in Anniston. ... It’s a huge green initiative that we’re really proud of and we’re starting to see a lot of people visit Anniston just for those venues.” KENT DAVIS CITY MANAGER