BILL CRAWFORD: Day shows rural towns can succeed

Thomasville, a small town in Alabama’s poor “Black Belt,” has thrived under the leadership of Mayor Sheldon Day. Indeed, Day has his folks believing it is “cool to be rural.”

Census data shows Thomasville with 4,209 residents and a low family poverty rate of 13 percent compared to 25 percent for the whole of Clarke County and 19 percent for Alabama. The town’s poverty rate has been in steep decline since 2010 as median household income jumped 28 percent from $28,234 to $36,146.

The 500 student Thomasville High School, with 48 percent minority students and 63 percent who qualify for free and reduced lunches, boasts a stellar graduation rate of 95 percent.

During his 20 years as mayor, Day has attracted over $700 million in capital investments and increased the number of industrial parks from one to five. He estimated 50 percent of the businesses along the Highway 43 by-pass in Thomasville have opened during his tenure and sales tax collections have tripled.

Daily Journal