The City of Decatur hopes to draw FBI employees as they start moving to North Alabama. WAAY 31 learned more than 400 employees have already moved to North Alabama for "FBI Redstone."
"We have the best value in housing in the state. That will be very appealing to many. We have the lowest utility rates in the state, then we have the most diverse student population in the state," Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling said.
That's the pitch Mayor Bowling has to hundreds of FBI workers as he hopes to land some of them in his city. The FBI is bringing 1,400 workers, mainly from Washington D.C. and Virginia, to North Alabama. It's part of the new headquarters being built on Redstone Arsenal.
Mayor Bowling tells WAAY 31 he has a target number of workers he would like to bring to Decatur.
WAAY 31 contacted Decatur Utilities to confirm the information from the mayor. We were told the combined bill for all four services (electricity, natural gas, water, and wastewater) is the lowest in the state of Alabama. We were also shown a breakdown of the cheap housing prices compared to local cities. The data-collecting company called Niche defends the claim that the school system is the most diverse in the state.
Mayor Bowling says there haven't been many housing projects in the city, and he knows that must change for it to be an attractive destination. John Underwood works with a local architecture company, Schoel Markland Architecture, and hopes to fix that.
"The last few years, we are kind of turning things around here downtown, which I think will help immensely. Any growth population wise will be fantastic," Underwood said.
Underwood says the addition of FBI workers could be appealing enough for other businesses to come as well, something he and his company have their eyes on.
"More and more upscale businesses to come to Decatur, especially downtown, and that just helps overall," Underwood said.
Even if the FBI workers decide to live somewhere else in North Alabama, Mayor Bowling says they will still leave an economic impact.
"We'd love to have them make their home here, but if they choose to make their home elsewhere, we have a wonderful place for them to come visit," Mayor Bowling said.
The FBI tells WAAY 31 there are two buildings on Redstone Arsenal that will hold the 1,400 FBI workers. They are both scheduled to open on time in 2021.