Early industries were established here in 1887 when a group of Northern industrialists partnered with prominent local residents to build a new town originally named New Decatur and later renamed Albany for the purpose of building an industrial base centered on railroads and the Tennessee River.
In promoting the town, these industrialists adopted the slogan, “New Decatur, The Chicago of the South”. Still, the major Southern crop, “King Cotton” along with other agricultural crops provided the basis for much of the town’s economy until the mid-1900s when the city’s current industrial prowess began to take shape. An early “modern” industry was Goodyear (1927), followed by the Ingalls Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company (1937). Wolverine Tube (1948) and Chemstrand (1951) began the trend to mega-industries resulting in a nearly 10 mile industrial waterfront and a skilled workforce such that 25% of all jobs in the city are in the manufacturing sector— an incredibly high percentage. According to the Morgan County Economic Development Association, the city currently boasts 18 Fortune 500 companies with significant operations here.
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David Breland is kind of a big deal in Morgan County. His memory goes WAAAAY back (check out his picture), but he also is a local expert in Morgan County history. David is Director of Historical Resources and Events for the City of Decatur in Morgan County, Alabama.