Leaders from West Alabama are arriving in Raleigh, North Carolina Sunday afternoon to try to find lessons and ideas to bring back to Tuscaloosa.

The 600-mile trek is the fifth Benchmarking Trip organized by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama since they first led one to Greenville, South Carolina in 2017.

The Chamber has also taken leaders to Lexington, Chattanooga and Asheville.

This year's trip is presented by the University of Alabama, with Platinum Sponsors including Whitesky Communications and Winter McFarland Attorneys and Counselors at Law.

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Attendees in Raleigh this week include elected officials such as Senator Gerald Allen, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox, Probate Judge Rob Robertson and Northport City Councilors Jamie Dykes and Woodrow Washington.

They are joined by other local leaders including the new Stillman College President Yolanda Page, outgoing Shelton State President Chris Cox, DCH CEO Katrina Keefer and dozens of other leaders from Tuscaloosa-area businesses and organizations.

In a whirlwind series of meetings and panels, the delegation will meet with Raleigh leaders including mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin, Raleigh Chamber President Adrienne Cole, area economic experts, educators, transportation specialists, arts and entertainment curators and more.

The Tuscaloosa group will also explore the American Tobacco Campus in Durham Monday and spend time in the North Carolina Museums of Art and History.

The Thread will also be here in Raleigh for the duration of the Benchmarking Trip, reporting the lessons leaders learn here and what they could mean for West Alabama in the future, so be sure to stay connected for updates from the Tar Heel State.

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