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+9.6% since 2010
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Tuscaloosa is home to the University of Alabama, a large quality institution known among other things for its sports programs, notably football’s “Crimson Tide.” The city has a strong college-town character with the usual entertainment and cultural amenities. For such a college town, the economy has always been fairly diverse, but more recently, the arrival of a Mercedes-Benz plant has done a lot for the city’s economy as well as its image. As found elsewhere in the South, the new auto plant not only brings direct employment but also supports smaller businesses, further strengthening the economy, and that pattern is evident in the strong job statistics.
The city scores well for cost of living, especially for a college town and for healthcare and overall quality of life. Climate, crime and air service are among the negatives, although the crime issue has been improving. Educational attainment is a bit weak for a college town. Tuscaloosa has received a National Civic League All-America City Award. The area may be better than the ranking suggests.
The city is located in an area of level to low rolling hills on the banks of the Black Warrior River. Dams just to the northeast contain Lake Tuscaloosa and Bankhead Lake. Land cover is mainly agricultural and southern pine forests. The climate is humid subtropical with long, hot summers in the 90s, persistent humidity, and frequent thunderstorms. Winters are mild with temperatures above freezing most days. Spring is variable, with strong storms. Fall is mild and pleasant with an occasional tropical downpour. First freeze is early November, last is late March.
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