THE SHOALS, Ala. (WAFF) - Under a new federal proposal, 144 cities could lose status as metro areas, that includes cities right here in the Tennessee Valley.
The Shoals is one area at risk.
Melissa Bailey with the City of Florence said a change in how metro areas are designated could be a huge drag on the entire Shoals economy.
Right now, a Metro Statistical Area (MSA) must have at least 50,000 residents, but a federal rule change could double that.
This change could hurt the Shoals in the long run.
“Colbert and Lauderdale counties and our four cities that comprise of the Shoals comprise that MSA. With the definition change, it’ll bump that minimum population to 100,000, which is not attainable for us at this point,” said Melissa Bailey.
The Florence City Council has already passed a resolution opposing the change.
The resolution states: “...losing the MSA designation would be devastating for industrial, business and retail recruitment.”
“Our city alone, that’s approximately $350,000 a year,” said Bailey.
Bailey said if the Shoals loses metro status, it could affect key federal funding.
“We would be missing out on our potentially about two million dollars in MPO funds, which are strictly for transportation. We’re also looking at losses in community development funds that are direct from the department of HUD. Those programs serve our most vulnerable citizens,” added Bailey.
It could also make it harder to recruit new business to the Shoals.
“Looking at our area, the fact that we are an MSA, a designated MSA means that we have that status so to speak in the economic development world and to lose that could mean opportunities of industries looking at us for relocation or new industry,” said Bailey.
Tuscumbia Mayor, Kerry Underwood, said Tuscumbia City Council has also passed a resolution opposing the change.
North Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks and Robert Aderholt also signed a letter opposing the change.