By Rebekah Martin
Mayor Gary Fuller addressed a packed room last Friday at the annual State of the City luncheon held on the campus of Southern Union State Community College.
Fuller reported on the progress Opelika made last year, calling 2016 ‘terrific’ for the city.
“Together we’ve come a long way, and the good news is, our best days are a head of us,” Fuller said. “Sometimes it’s hard for us to remember how downtown Opelika looked when it was on its last breath, we didn’t have Tiger Town, our streets were in poor shape, the facilities at Opelika High School were absolutely embarrassing, we didn’t have the Sportsplex … we didn’t have the Rocky Brook Rocket.”
Fuller said various industries, including Daewon America, Cumberland Plastics, Baxter and the still-under-construction Golden State Foods and CarTech, LLC helped Opelika add $127.8 million in capital investments and thousands of jobs for Opelika citizens.
Small businesses in Opelika are strengthening the local economy too, according to Fuller.
“Our retail continues to flourish … downtown Opelika, the heart and soul of our city, is adding new businesses and older retail spaces are seeing new life,” the fourth-term mayor said.
“Shopping centers like Pepperell Corners, USA Town Center, Saugahatchee Square are all doing well.”
Fuller mentioned the ongoing construction of two housing developments, the Springs of Mill Lakes and the Village of Hamilton Lake, both contributing to the $132.6 million in building permits issued in FY 16.
Fuller praised the Opelika City Council as well as various department heads for their hard work and sacrifice for the well-being of the city.
Fuller also mentioned Opelika’s police and fire departments, as well as Opelika Parks and Recreation and the Lewis Cooper, Jr. Memorial Library, and congratulated them on their growth and development last year.
“I’m so proud of the progress we’ve made. It’s all about teamwork and working hard to improve our community,” Fuller said. “We want to leave it better than what we found it … We’re a better community today than we were and a lot of people deserve credit. We’re going to be a better community five years from now, 10 years from now,” Fuller said.