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Montevallo partnership celebrated

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MONTEVALLO— The University of Montevallo, the City of Montevallo and Shelby County celebrated the formation of the Montevallo Development Cooperative District Wednesday, June 13, at a kickoff event on Main Street in Montevallo. This coalition will work to extend the university to downtown Montevallo, thereby revitalizing the city, promoting the “town and gown” relationship between the two entities, and in addition, promoting economic development and tourism within the county.

In addition to the announcement of the formation of this cooperative, the purchase of the structure at 737 Main St. was revealed, along with artists’ renderings of the proposed renovations to be made. The building will ultimately house university academic offices and classroom space. The property, which had previously housed the local offices of Alabama Power Co., was sold by the Lewis W. Headley family of Clanton.

In remarks at the celebration, Alex Dudchock, Shelby County manager, compared the partnership of the three entities involved to a three-legged stool. All three legs working together make the stool strong and functional. With an eye to increased enrollment at UM and a resulting increase in commerce, he said that the county, as well as the city and the university, will benefit from this mutual effort.

Montevallo Mayor Ben McCrory said that city officials had previously pursued funds for the revitalization of downtown Montevallo at the federal level but were not successful. He said that, when he presented the redevelopment plan to Dudchock and UM president John W. Stewart III, “They understood our vision and immediately embraced it. You see before you a united Montevallo – a city, a university and a county moving forward together for the benefit of us all.”

Stewart said, “This partnership is consistent with our strategy of improving existing assets for their best and most efficient purpose, and it blends the city and the university as never before. It is really unique to see a partnership among three distinct entities like UM, the city and the county that enjoys almost unanimous support from their constituents.” He said. “In difficult economic times, this kind of partnership can serve as a national model.”

Stewart noted that many large universities across the nation are spending large amounts of capital in an effort to develop a “small-town feel” in their surrounding areas, while Montevallo has that benefit already.

Since its founding in 1896, the university has been an integral part of the Montevallo community, but Stewart says, “This is no longer just a friendship, but a marriage.”