Community Engagement Dinner: Northport is Moving Forward

The City Council members speak on the future of Northport’s retail and development over dinner Tuesday night.

By Keldrin Palmer
News Reporter

NORTHPORT—The city held its semi-annual Community Engagement Dinner and presented its thoughts and goals for commercial growth in the coming years Tuesday night.

The event is designed to keep Northport business owners and citizens knowledgeable of current plans and problems facing the community in a more comfortable setting. The event was hosted by Chamber Tuscaloosa and The Levee Bar and Grill. Doors opened at 5:30 p.m. and dinner was catered by chamber member and restaurant owner Gary McGee.

“We just celebrated our fourth birthday last Saturday, and it’s all thanks to the community’s positive response to new business here,” said McGee, owner of The Levee at 1 Bridge Avenue. “Hosting this event twice a year is our way to show our thanks.”

Northport’s Retail and Development Committee, composed of Mayor Donna Aaron, District 2 Councilman and City Council President Jay Logan and District 5 Councilman Jeff Hogg, led the presentation. The crowd of roughly 50 people consisted of chamber president Jim Page, many business owners and influencers, and many more community members.

The highlights of the meeting were the committee informing those in attendance not only of the city’s current standing, but also sharing their ideas for improvements to current resources and their plan to draw new business.

A big reason for the focus on improvements is the loss of revenue in Northport due to the people looking to other places or online for resources like entertainment, retail, hardware, and more.

“If you add it all up, we’re probably losing more than $80 million in revenue,” Logan said.

The committee informed the public that they are aware that certain businesses like Bass Pro Shop and Cracker Barrel would do well with residents, but factors like interstate accessibility prevent Northport from being an eligible candidate.

Hogg also brought up the city’s desire to preserve as much of its charm as possible while still progressing.

“We never want to lose focus of who we are, and what we do best. Downtown Northport is a great place, it’s a postcard, but we are the 23rdlargest city in Alabama. We can’t just be Downtown Northport,” Hogg said.

Talk of renovations and additions prevailed through the remainder of the meeting including roadway projects, school remodeling and teases for land development projects. Aaron revealed she has been working on a secret project for the western development of McFarland that they are not yet ready to share, but she says will be worth the wait. Logan alluded to his desires for a large events location and his regrets for the council not bringing a hotel to town 10 years ago.

“Can you imagine how far ahead we’d be right now if we had gotten any type of hotel back then,” Logan said. “We’d be light years from where we are now. I want to invest in things like conference centers because that’s what our peer cities are doing, and I do not want to be left behind again.”