Jeff Rouzie talks business, big things coming to Foley

By Jessica Vaughn / jessica@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 9/14/17

FOLEY – Jeff Rouzie, Foley’s Director of Economic Development, appeared as the speaker for the Foley Woman Club’s Kick Off Lunch on September 11 at The Gift Horse Restaurant. During the lunch, …

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Jeff Rouzie talks business, big things coming to Foley

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FOLEY – Jeff Rouzie, Foley’s Director of Economic Development, appeared as the speaker for the Foley Woman Club’s Kick Off Lunch on September 11 at The Gift Horse Restaurant. During the lunch, Rouzie spoke to the audience about some of the big things that are coming to Foley, as well as some of the most crucial elements to Foley’s growth.

BUSINESSES & AMENITIES

Foley continues to grow, and with that growth comes an influx of brand new businesses and entertainment options for locals and tourists. Rouzie, who is responsible for reaching out to businesses and forming relationships, gave an insight on some of the newest locations we could soon see in Foley, and gave an answer to one of the most asked questions of the audience: will the city be getting a Publix or Rouses?

“I think we’ll have both of them in the next 24 months,” Rouzie said. “I think the first one we’ll hear about is Publix.” Rouzie revealed that a meeting between the city and Publix officials will be taking place soon, and he believes there’s a good shot that a contract could be signed before the end of the year. If so, the new store will be located near Tanger Outlets.

Another project, which Rouzie described as Phase 2, after Academy Sports and PetSmart which were Phase 1, has been going on for nearly two years, and upon completion will bring a Marshall’s, Home Goods, Ulta Cosmetics, Tuesday Morning, and Five Below to the city, as well as a possible Dunkin’ Donuts, Buffalo Wild Wings and Panera Bread. There are plans for improved roads, and new entrances and exits to corollate with the upcoming businesses.

“We’re cleaning things up a lot,” said Rouzie. “Plus, we’ll have additional shops, we can go here locally instead of driving to the Eastern Shore which is obviously a good thing.”

SOUTH BALDWIN REGIONAL

The hospital has been a large topic lately, after being named one of the top hospitals in the country. Rouzie took some questions about the possibility of new locations being added on the Beach Express, an idea that was introduced by Mayor John Koniar previously.

“We have three possible locations,” said Rouzie. “There’s a north location, which would be a new extension that has yet to be built that would extend Fern Ave out to the Foley Beach Express. The middle location is just south of Hwy 98 and the Foley Beach Express, and then at Co Rd 20 and the Foley Beach Express is the south location.”

Rouzie states that with additional hospitals, the quality of jobs within Foley will increase as the population grows.

“Just think about this,” Rouzie said. “We’ve got the only hospital in South Baldwin County. That hospital is vital for our future growth of high paying jobs. If the hospital goes to a city property on the Foley Beach Express, then suddenly you’ve got other’s moving in. You’ve got doctors, you’ve got nurses, you’ve got surgeons. And we really think that’s where our potential is, it’s in medical.”

FUTURE HOUSING PLANNED

“The future for Foley looks very bright,” Rouzie said. “It’s a great town, it’s growing, and one area we really need to focus on is residential and single-family housing.”

The City of Foley is in the process of working with Truman Homes to plan their first big housing project to come, which will be built across from Graham Creek’s Park.

“One thing that is interesting is that when you start looking at Tanger, you start looking at numbers, is you know Foley is an amazing place,” Rouzie said. “95% of the dollars spent in Tanger come from outside the City of Foley.”

Rouzie states that in Alabama sales tax is key, and it helps to keep the other taxes in the state lower. It’s this reason that Rouzie is hoping to see Foley grow in the future, to make the city even more prosperous.

“We have a lot of people who come and work in Foley during the day, but they’re leaving by sundown,” Rouzie said. “Part of that is because we have so many nice places to live around us, outside the city.”

According to Rouzie, it’s Foley’s proximity to places such as the gulf that make it imperative that Foley build nice residential areas, which will keep people not only shopping and working in Foley, but living in the city as well. He states that grocery sales are one of the biggest factors for any city, and that often, people will shop where it’s most convenient, which is normally closer to their homes.

“In 2011 we did a little study on inflow and outflow,” Rouzie said. “We had about 15,000 people with jobs who came into Foley during the day, and then out of that, a great number of them left. Whereas people leaving Foley for jobs outside the city was only 4,000. So there’s a big difference, during the day we have a lot bigger population than we do in the evenings.”

To bring more people to Foley, Rouzie says that exposure for the city is key. Rouzie stated that the new Sports Tourism Complex will be a huge factor to bringing lifelong residents to the city.

“We’re bringing in literally thousands of youth soccer, lacrosse, baseball, gymnastics,” said Rouzie. “These people are coming from all over, not only the southeast but all over the country. A lot of doctors and owners of companies are coming to Foley and seeing our facilities. So we’re recruiting. They see this place for the first time and say, ‘Man, they have all these amenities here. Why isn’t my company here, taxes in Alabama aren’t near what they are in Illinois!’ I mean, that’s all part of getting us exposed.”

Another place with major exposure for the city is Graham Creek, which hosts tournaments year-round that draw in thousands of competitors and enthusiasts.

One of the main concerns from the audience was the infrastructures in the area, and if they would be able to accommodate such an influx of people. As one concerned audience member who lives near Graham Creek stated, when events are going on the roads in the area are almost impossible to navigate.

“We’ve got a situation where we’ve got country and city,” said Rouzie. “We’ve got some that are maintained by county, some that are maintained by city. We do have a lot more money now to put towards improving roads, so that is going to happen.”

Whatever the future of Foley, Rouzie predicts that the growth will continue, and hopes to see many new businesses and residents calling Foley home in the near-future.