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The Chamber Blog

This space features conversations about issues affecting the Decatur-Morgan County area from leaders in our community.

Our "Best & Brightest"

This is the perfect time for young professionals to live in Decatur.

Why, you ask? We are a burgeoning arts and outdoors community along the Tennessee River. Our low cost of living, access to great jobs throughout north Alabama, relaxed pace of life, and proximity to multiple major cities all appeal to the young professionals who live here. Downtown lofts, major upgrades like the Cook Museum, and more are all coming soon.

Recently, entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk was asked what it would take for a city outside of the traditional tech startup hubs to get “on the map.” His answer was simple: get a win. Similarly, we need to get wins to attract interest from companies and industries that may not be considering us just yet. Doing so will attract attention, differentiate us from other emerging markets, and encourage employers to learn more about who we are. 

Today, we have an opportunity for a win. And you can help make it happen.

Decatur is launching the first comprehensive incentive package in the nation for young professionals who have earned an accredited STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) degree, the “Best and Brightest Initiative.” Benefits of this program include up to $15,000 in student loan repayment, mentoring from community leaders, the chance to join local boards and influence causes young professionals care about, and networking for job opportunities with employers. Accepted applicants live in Decatur but can work anywhere they want.

Feedback from young professionals built the Best and Brightest Initiative. In addition to items such as entertainment options, travel opportunities and viable employment opportunities, the fact becoming engaged in a community and “doing good” are on their list should make our philanthropic city an attraction to YPs looking for a city where they can grow roots and make a difference. 

Programs like the Best and Brightest Initiative are investments in the future of our community. Laying a foundation to attract young people who will eventually lead our global economy – possibly through an app they developed right here in the River City – will position Decatur and North Alabama to be a key player in the rapidly evolving tech scene.

The success of this Initiative can be our next big win. You can help make that happen by sharing our website with your colleagues and social networks, encouraging others to apply, and offering your feedback and suggestions.

John Joseph is a Decatur native and development director of Decatur Corridor Development, Inc. He can be reached by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Learn more about the eligibility requirements and find the online application at http://www.bestandbrightestdecatur.org/.

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