Gateway grants help Alabama communities make grand first impression

Gateway grants help Alabama communities make grand first impression

By Erin Searson


You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. That’s the idea behind the Gateway program that awards grants to support construction or upgrading of signs to welcome visitors into cities, towns and communities across Alabama.

A recent recipient of a Gateway grant, the city of Sylacauga, ran with the idea and used local and historical materials to complete its welcome sign. The sign was a cooperative effort between the beautification council, businesses, individuals and the city.

Jim Heigl, president of the Sylacauga Beautification Council, said the marble sign is “Sylacauga white, which was cut and polished for dividers in the girls and boys dressing rooms in the old basketball gym at Sylacauga High School. The solid bricks came from Avondale Mills. So, you can see, we have a large part of our city’s heritage built into this project.”

Steve Marlowe, Sylacauga Office manager for Alabama Power, said he’s proud to work with all the groups that helped make the sign a reality and are a reflection of the city.

“We are excited to be a part of a project that memorializes our heritage, highlights our natural resources and welcomes visitors to our community,” Marlowe said.

This year the Alabama Power Foundation awarded 22 Gateway grants totaling more than $42,000. The goal is to help revitalize communities by funding well-designed signs that can also attract new businesses and industry.

“The Gateway program recognizes that our cities and towns are not just dots on the map, but are the heartbeat of our state,” said Myla Calhoun, president of the Alabama Power Foundation. “Signs express community pride and support economic development and tourism.”

Gateway is one of several community programs funded by the Alabama Power Foundation. In its fifth year, the Gateway program has awarded more than $230,000 through 118 grants.


This story was originally published on Alabama NewsCenter.