Montgomery Business Journal

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Southeast Alabama Gas District Seeks Higher Profile

March 2014

By David Zaslawsky    

Photography by Robert Fouts

That’s only part of the story for the Andalusia-based firm that was founded in 1952 with 14 municipalities. The company has become a sustaining-level investor in the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce’s five-year strategic plan – Imagine A Greater Montgomery II.

“The foundation of economic development is the local economic developers,” said Wiley Lott, director of external affairs and economic development for Southeast Alabama Gas District (SAGD).  “There is no finer group than the Montgomery Chamber. They have a great team. We believe in supporting the local foundation – the local economic developers – with our time, money, talent and resources.”

The company is so serious about economic development that SAGD decided to create its own department instead of relying on consultants, and Lott was brought in last year to run the economic development program. “I’m laying the foundation,” Lott said.

He said the firm “has a special emphasis on being a part of the Alabama economic development team and to work to bring industry and jobs to our state. Also, work with our communities to help strengthen and help grow them and help our existing businesses grow and expand; and bring new industry in to create jobs.”

He stressed that team concept in economic development and the importance of partnerships and relationships. “The whole idea of economic development is jobs,” said Lott, who developed and ran three departments for Wal-Mart: real estate/distribution center; state government relations; and economic development.

“We need to all work together as a team in order to help our businesses grow and create an environment where businesses can grow and prosper and also work to bring industry into the state. That’s the reason why this position was created.

“If we can all work together as part of this Alabama team, then we can magnify (results) and leverage our assets; leverage our relationships; leverage our talents … That’s what it’s all about.”

The company services 35 communities, including Montgomery County, Elmore County and Pike Road. Lott said that SAGD has a large presence in East Montgomery and South Montgomery.

“We really appreciate the opportunities that we have here and look forward to continue growing as Montgomery prospers,” Lott said. “We look forward to being a part of that growth.” SAGD has about 3,300 customers in the River Region.

The gas company does not have “a territory per se,” according to Lott, but competes for customers whether it’s a new subdivision or industry. “We can serve where we have the ability,” he said.

Lott said the move to the downtown Montgomery office shows the company’s commitment to Montgomery. “My office is located in close proximity to a number of leading economic development organizations, including the Montgomery Chamber. We want to be part of the (economic development) team. We want to be in Montgomery because that’s the state capital … so that we will have a seat at the table and working to help create an environment that is conducive to business.”

He will work with the Legislature in an informational capacity, Lott said – not as a lobbyist. He will be joined in his office with consultant Billy Joe Camp and there is space for a receptionist. The company also has a consultant in Korea, identifying companies that would be a good fit for Montgomery. Lott said he was grateful for help from the Retirement Systems of Alabama in locating his office.

Lott credits the employees for SAGD’s success. “It is the people – the hard-working, dedicated professionals. They are from here. Their heart and passion is helping our people (in Alabama).”

 

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