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Assets of the Marble City: Close enough, but far enough away


It seems like everyone who talks about the value of real estate eventually boils it down to location, location, and…location.

Thinking about our city and her best qualities, location has to be at the top of the list.

A pertinent phrase comes to mind when thinking about Sylacauga: “close enough, but far enough away.” What does it mean? Using a compass, let’s explore and see how we are close enough in every direction and how this proximity is a huge differentiator for us.

First, it is important to recognize our “trade area.” A trade area is the radius in which most people conduct daily business, go to the doctor, shop, eat out, and so on. With Sylacauga being the epicenter, it seems reasonable to use a 30-mile radius as an easy trade area for folks to live in and come to our town to shop and trade. For example, a person living in Millerville (18 miles away), Childersburg (12 miles away), Fayetteville (8 miles away), Winterboro (10 miles away), Sycamore (6 miles away), Alpine (10 miles away), and many others would come to Sylacauga to purchase groceries, clothing, school supplies, medicine, building materials, visit the doctor, eat out, bank, and conduct other business.  Using information from the most recent census (2010), it is noted there were 224,220 people living in our 30-mile radius trade area. This represents a quarter of a million people and is an important number to keep in mind; it’s the number businesses use when deciding where to locate their new branch, office, service, plant or franchise. We want that decision to be Sylacauga. Sylacauga has so much more to offer than her stated population of approximately twelve thousand.

So, back to the compass. If one leaves Sylacauga and heads northwest, we find ourselves in the Birmingham metro area, home to well over a million people.  The metro area (33 miles away to be exact) is close enough to Sylacauga to – commute to work, college, medical specialist, go to big concerts and events – but far enough away to not be burdened with big city traffic, crime, congestion, smog, higher taxes, etc.

Let’s turn the compass south. We find Montgomery (at 60 miles away), our state capitol. Again, a city close enough for an easy commute to – work, engage in state political matters, the big Hyundai plant, or to just go to a baseball game– but, yet it’s far enough away. For trade and growth, it’s really important to have easy access to the capitol city; Fleetwood, Nemak, and others were well aware of this when making their decision to be in our area. We are right in the middle of the automobile industry.

Check the compass and head north. Honda in Lincoln jumps off the page. That is probably because it’s the state’s 6th largest employer and right at our back door. Over 5,000 people work for Honda or a sister company, which again is close enough to Sylacauga (27 miles to be exact) for an easy commute – and many of our residents make this commute – but yet, it’s far enough away for us to enjoy living in a relaxed community.

Since our compass points in every direction, let’s turn it to the west and find one of our greatest assets immediately in our focus – the Talladega National Forest and Hollins Wildlife Management Area. These treasures boast 390,000 acres and includes: Lake Howard, Lake Virginia, Cheaha Mountain (Alabama’s tallest mountain), the Pinhoti Trail, Skyline Jeep Trail, waterfalls, hiking, boating, fishing, birding, hunting, and more for unmatched beauty and recreation. I know of one family, and I’m sure there are others, who made the decision to move to our area because of these two assets. They love living far enough away from the forest, in a nice city, while close enough to something of importance to their family (without having to be live in a tent). Having families like this in Sylacauga certainly makes this asset a favorite of mine.

Continuing west, we find ourselves in Tuscaloosa (approximately 90 miles away), the home of the University of Alabama. It is close enough to visit family or friends in school, makes for an easy day trip to ball games and other campus events, and is home to the very large Mercedes plant (which is only 75 miles from Sylacauga), but is also far enough away.

Looking back at the compass and heading to the southeast, in a little over an hour we can be at Auburn University, which also has a vibrant business climate. A trip to Auburn offers the same amenities as a trip to Tuscaloosa. The benefits are also very similar – all the fun without living in a college town. The drive down Hwy 280 on a crisp fall Saturday morning is leisurely. Many of our neighbors have enjoyed games in Auburn and made it home much sooner than most of their fellow fans, which were heading back to other cities.

Following the compass to the northeast, we find the Atlanta Metro Area, with a population of 5.9mm people – a huge business and industry hub – which can be reached in only 109 miles.  I make this commute almost weekly, and it is a piece of cake. Atlanta has the country’s busiest airport, and it is often much easier and cheaper to catch a direct flight out of Atlanta than to connect out of Birmingham. This is a big reason why it is nice to live close enough to the Atlanta airport, but far enough away to not have to navigate through 5.9 million people to pick up a loaf of bread and a half of a gallon of Blue Bell ice cream, in your daily routine.

So, finally, while spinning the compass in every direction, it seems to always point towards a beautiful lake. It makes our city a cool place to live.  To the southeast about 35 miles away, we find Lake Martin, with the cleanest and clearest emerald green water in the Southeast. When built, it was the largest manmade lake (44,000 acres) ever built. To the west is Lay Lake, Lake Logan Martin, and Mitchell Lake, all on the Coosa River and easily accessible from Sylacauga.  Lay Lake, one of the best fishing lakes in the country, is about 13 miles away and has hosted the Bassmaster’s Classic, the World Series of Bass fishing.

Join me in always remembering…when we are in Sylacauga, we are close enough to so much, we have easy access to many treasures, BUT we are always far enough away to not be burdened with the negatives and costs of big city life, and, at the end of the day, we can enjoy the simpler things in life and thrive in the Marble City, USA. Why…Because we have location, location, and location, here, and in any direction we venture.

Until next time,


With a special thanks to my proofreader, Ms. Bess Terrell — a fine Sylacaugian.

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