After 25 years in the field of Economic Development, Al Cook knows his stuff. Over the course of his career, he’s achieved some pretty remarkable things for many communities in Alabama and Florida. Two of the organizations he has headed – the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce and the Opelika Economic Development Office – were named among the top 10 economic development organizations in the country by Site Selection magazine.
Al began his career in 1974 as a project manager for the Alabama Development Office. After leaving that position in 1978, he spent 12 years in manufacturing, where he was instrumental in the start-up of five manufacturing facilities in central Alabama.
By 1990, Al had joined the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce as Senior Vice President for Corporate Development and Recruitment, where he was responsible for business recruitment, economic research, military and community affairs, and minority business development. During this time, Cook began study at the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute. He earned the designation of Certified Economic Developer (CEeD) in 1996.
Al went on to join Florida’s Great Northwest, Inc. in 2001, where he handled regional economic development marketing and research.
He then came on board with the City of Opelika as Director of Economic Development in 2003. During his eight years as director, he helped recruit multiple new industries to the city, creating more than 2,100 jobs.
Al is a native of Union Springs, Bullock County, Ala. He is a member of the Opelika Rotary Club, Paul Harris Fellow; a member of the Graduate Education Development Council at Auburn University and the Executive Chairman of the Board of AmeriFirst Bank, headquartered in Union Springs.
When he’s off the clock, Al and his wife Louise -"Dudley" enjoy the beach, Auburn University athletic events and then, there’s Al’s golf. Avid though he is, he claims his game and his 19 handicap, is not up to par. The Cooks reside in Opelika.
Besides Al’s experience, he’s been an active voice in the economic development arena since early in his career. His leadership in professional organizations has helped shape the field of economic development in the Southeast.
Past President - Economic Developers Association of Alabama
Former State Director - Southern Economic Development Council
Past Secretary - Opelika Industrial Development Authority
Former Member - Opelika Planning Commission
Past Secretary - Industrial Development Board for City of Montgomery
Past Secretary - Montgomery Area Committee of 100