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Area lawmakers list education, economic development as priorities in Legislative Session

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Merika Coleman (Provided photo)

By Sinclair Portis

Special to the Times

Merika Coleman (Provided photo)
Merika Coleman (Provided photo)

Education is one of the main issues facing Jefferson County, according to members of the county’s delegation in the Alabama Legislature. Other issues include lack of collaboration, crime, education and economic development, they said in interviews.

Rep. Allen Treadaway, R-Morris, said many factors play into economic development and work is being done to put more money into community colleges and trade schools to create economic opportunities, he said.

“People want to live where they feel safe,” Treadaway said.

“We’ve listened to a lot of manufacturers. They need folks that are trained for these jobs, so we have to develop that workforce training. If you don’t have that workforce training, then we’re going to lose out on the economic development, meaning that these companies are not going to move in our area. They’ll choose to go somewhere else that are putting the investment in the workforce training.”

This point was echoed by Rep. Merika Coleman, D-Birmingham. Areas with little housing and little economic development tend to have poor education systems, she said, describing education as an issue as well as a possible solution.

“That just should not happen when we’re all paying our taxes to Jefferson County,” she said.

“… We shouldn’t have schools to where you have students that have every resource they can think of from laptops to all types of amenities, the arts and trips and all kinds of stuff, and then you have students that come to school and they don’t have a book. Something’s wrong with that.”

Coleman works with municipalities like Brighton and Lipscomb that do not have the same resources as cities like Birmingham.

Coleman mentioned lack of collaboration throughout the county. Smaller cities need to work with larger cities more to allow all students to have the same education, she said.