Association for University
Business and Economic Research

A National Association of
Regional Economic Research Centers

Alabama Center Conducts Passenger Rail Expansion Study That Gains High Visibility in State

These days, Jennifer Green is pretty busy fielding questions from businesses and the media about the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic impact on the community, as are many AUBER centers throughout the U.S.

Shortly before coronavirus hit, Green, the director of the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Jacksonville State University, completed a study titled “The Economic Impact of Passenger Rail Expansion on the State of Alabama”that is getting a lot of visibility in Alabama.

Conducted for the Southern Rail Commission, a three-state compact (Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana), Green looked at the economic impact of expanding passenger rail service within Alabama, specifically from Birmingham to Montgomery, from Montgomery to Mobile, and from Atlanta to Birmingham.

Alabama has been working over the years to restore passenger service along the gulf coast that was halted by Hurricane Katrina. The study found that expanding the rail service would add thousands of construction and railway operations jobs and increase tourism spending throughout the state (View Executive Summary here).

According to Toby Bennington, senior commissioner from Alabama for the Southern Rail Commission and director of Planning and Economic Development for the City of Anniston, the economic impact study will be a valuable educational and planning tool as the state looks to address passenger rail and the multimodal transportation network.

“We are beyond satisfied with the study,” Bennington said. “The direction Jennifer took was very effective. It is a realistic picture of what could possibly happen. It’s a very dynamic piece of economic analysis.”

For Green, elected to the AUBER board of directors last October, “It was professionally rewarding to conduct this assessment for the state of Alabama and to create an informative document.”

Additionally, Green said she is honored to be able to submit the publication to AUBER’s Publications Committee this fall for consideration for a publications award.

June 19, 2020

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