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Alabama Power recognized for partnership in rural development

The Alabama Power Economic and Community Development team has been named a Rural Star Partner by the Alabama Department of Commerce for its role in supporting rural development. Announced at the Department of Commerce’s annual Rural Development Conference, the Rural Star Partner Award recognizes partners across Alabama who support rural development through the Simulated Training and Readiness (STAR) program.

The STAR program provides valuable training to economic developers working in rural areas to help prepare them to better compete for business growth projects.

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STAR is gaining popularity, with a third of the state’s rural developers having completed or entered the program.

“So much of a focus is on rural development. There is a lot of potential in rural communities – it’s just a matter of these areas putting their best foot forward, knowing how to attract economic development prospects and gaining the tools and relationships to do so,” said Shane Kearney, director of Economic and Community Development (ECD) at Alabama Power. “At Alabama Power we see a lot of value in standing alongside and supporting this effort.”

Alabama Power’s Shane Kearney, left, and Diane Brooker display the award. (Hal Yeager / Governor’s Office)

Experts from ECD’s Strategic Analytics team and Business Development team work hand-in-hand with Alabama Power division partners to provide expertise, data and best practices throughout the program.

“It can really elevate a community’s efforts to attract business when decision-makers physically visit the community and see the potential,” said Diane Brooker, a community relations manager in Alabama Power’s Western Division.

Brooker works with communities throughout the company’s Western Division to build and enhance relationships with local leaders. She recalled a recent visit, with the STAR program, to one of the communities she serves. With state officials also on the visit, it was an excellent opportunity for the community to walk through all the steps in how to best work with partners and present itself to industry recruiters and prospects.

“We help find, compile and present key site-location data for prospects looking in this area. Working with the ECD team and the Department of Commerce, we are able to acquire phenomenal information to better inform prospects,” said Brooker.

Not only is the data helpful, but local team members get an opportunity to walk through what the actual process would be for a site visit. Alabama Power offers economic development support, assistance in presenting data, as well as electricity expertise, including counsel on the power needs for a site and timeline for infrastructure installation.

“Without this program, some of the most valuable sites could go overlooked,” said Brooker. “To have a chance to equip economic developers with expertise and knowledge, as well as meet together at the table, really helps overcome the perception of rural development and will be very empowering for future growth.”

“It really is a team effort,” added Lauren Lambiase, senior project manager on Alabama Power’s Business Development team. “We provide a level of expertise that enables the community and the economic developer to make the most informed decisions that can lead to growth in the area. We are looking forward to continuing this work and are very honored to be recognized for something that our team is so passionate about.”

Learn more about Alabama Power’s Economic and Community Development team at