By Andrew Edwards
Throughout the 2018-19 year, there has been $3.5 million invested into small businesses in Prattville and surrounding Autauga county communities. This investment has allowed the city to expand upon its number of small businesses, acquiring 19 new establishments in the past fiscal year.
Over the past year, there has been a large influx of female owned businesses in the surrounding area.
The Wandering Coyote, one of the newer, female-owned small businesses in downtown Prattville, has been a product of this investment. The Coyote is a boutique store that sells a different assortment of clothing and jewelry and can help with any wants or needs on their Facebook page or website.
Kelsey Stahler-Garcia, a co-owner of the company, moved all the way from Montana to start the business with her mother, who likewise moved from Florida. “We decided to open shop downtown because there’s such a sense of community that we wanted to be a part of”, Kelsey explains. After her father was stationed on Maxwell Air Force Base, the two decided to open the shop in a place they love and consider home.
The company started their business last October and have been open downtown since May. They hope to continue the success that they have achieved up until this point by providing their great service and friendly local approach that Prattville loves to see put into action.
Not so new to the spotlight is the Prattville restaurant Mexico Tipico. Christopher Ramirez, son of owner Rogelio Ramirez, gave his take on the business community as a whole. “In 1993, when the Restaurant moved here from Montgomery, you were seeing a large boom economically. This is the same type of boom that we’re seeing now with small businesses in this area.”
The restaurant does not have an official mission statement, but that doesn’t mean they don’t thank that community for the support that they give them. “We love the support that Prattville has provided to us for these 25 plus years,” Ramirez explains. “We want to provide the most authentic food to the people in the community and create a family friendly environment for all to enjoy.”
The family friendly environment that both the Wandering Coyote, Mexico Tipico, and other small businesses provide is what helps to make Prattville such a welcoming city.
At the forefront of the recent economic development in Prattville is Mayor Bill Gillespie. Gillespie believes for small government to succeed, you need private enterprises to flourish. “We’ve seen such a large growing in our businesses for an assortment of reasons. Our fine education system, current growth in economic development, as well as curb appeal has really helped us move these enterprises into town”, Gillespie says.
And it’s not just the economic factor that has allowed the small business numbers to grow.
“It’s also the churches, the community, and welcoming environment that Prattville has that really allows these businesses to stay here and be a part of our Prattville family”, Gillespie explains. “If you rode downtown on a Thursday night years ago, you wouldn’t see anything going on downtown. Now, you might have to ride around the block a few times to find a good parking spot.”
All the economic growth didn’t just happen overnight.
During the last five years, 168 new businesses have opened in Prattville. This is paired with 2,329 new jobs and $797M in total capital investment. Economic development has been a huge focal point under Gillespie’s tenure, and over the last five years, the cities efforts to bolster the community has taken tremendous shape.
Patty VanderWal, President of the Prattville Chamber of Commerce, gives her take on the recent success that Prattville has seen.
“Our community has been seeing an increase in economic growth over the last 10 years, and growth in a rapidly changing economy requires partnerships and collaboration. This growth has included reinvestment from our existing industries and businesses, bringing new industries and businesses into our community, investment from small business owners and startups, not to mention our increasing population. People want to live in a vibrant and growing community and the Prattville Chamber, a voluntary partnership of businesses and professionals working together, helps to cast a vision of possibilities, devise strategy to spur economic growth, helping to ensure tangible wins for businesses and the community at large. Let’s face it, we are stronger together and the Chamber will continue to work diligently enhancing the vibrancy and livability of the Prattville/Autauga County area for us all.”
In the last year, the city has obtained $300,000 in downtown investment, 32 new businesses and 207 new jobs. The city continues to work vigorously everyday to make Prattville the best version of itself. It ultimately shows when you’re driving around one of those Thursday nights and can’t find a parking space because of the newfound city life.