Enterprise was founded by entrepreneur John Henry Carmichael, who moved to the area in 1881 and opened a store. The following year, more settlers came to the area, and a nearby post office was relocated to the town. It was officially incorporated as Enterprise in 1896, the population having expanded to 250. In 1898, the Alabama Midland Railroad company established its headquarters in the town, bringing new industry and growth. By this time, the town was a center of Alabama's cotton economy, as reflected in a population of more than 3,700 by 1906. This success was threatened in 1915 with the arrival of the boll weevil, a devastating cotton pest from Mexico. After suffering significant losses to their crops, farmers in the region shifted to other crops, including corn and peanuts, in part owing to the efforts of agricultural pioneer George Washington Carver. On December 11, 1919, the town dedicated the Boll Weevil Monument to acknowledge the role played by the pest in saving the region's economy.
In the 1940s, the U.S. Army established what is now Fort Rucker outside of Enterprise, and as the facility has expanded, it has brought many economic benefits to the area. During the 1960s, Enterprise-Ozark Community College (now Enterprise State Community College) developed a training program, now known as the Aviation Campus, to train local residents for jobs at Fort Rucker. The military base continues to play an important role in the city's economy. In 1981, Enterprise Electronics Corporation contributed to the development of Doppler radar.
Enterprise is bisected by U.S. Highway 84, which runs north-southeast through the city, and State Highway 27, which runs northeast-southeast through the city. State Highway 134 runs east-west through the city, and State Highway 248 runs east from the city. Enterprise Municipal Airport, with one runway, lies to the southwest of the city.
Enterprise's population at the time of the 2010 Census was 26,562. Of that number, 69.4 percent identified themselves as white, 20.7 percent as African American, 8.8 percent as Hispanic, 2.9 percent as two or more races, 2.0 percent as Asian, 0.5 percent as Native American, and 0.3 percent as Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. The city's median household income was $48,648, and per capita income was $23,997.
The workforce in present-day Enterprise is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (22.4 percent)
· Retail trade (15.2 percent)
· Public administration (10.9 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (9.2 percent)
· Manufacturing (8.3 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (7.6 percent)
· Construction (6.3 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (6.0 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (5.8 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (3.4 percent)
· Wholesale trade (2.1 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (1.8 percent)
· Information (1.1 percent)
Fort Rucker is the leading employer in the region, with many other residents being employed in the peanut industry. Sessions Peanut Company, founded in 1917, is the oldest company in the city.
The Enterprise City School system enrolls approximately 5,254 students and employs approximately 340 teachers in one early education center, six elementary schools, three junior high schools, and one high school. There are also two private schools. Enterprise State Community College serves post-secondary students in the area.
Events and Places of Interest
The Boll Weevil Monument, erected in 1919, is located in the historic town square and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Also listed are the Rawls Hotel, constructed in 1903, and the privately held Seaboard Coastline Depot building, constructed in 1900. Visitors may view exhibits on the city's history at the Enterprise Depot Museum, which is also home to the Pea River Historical and Genealogical Society. Enterprise has three parks and four sports complexes that offer visitors various recreational and athletic opportunities.
Enterprise hosts numerous events throughout the year. In spring, residents and visitors can enjoy the World's Smallest St. Patrick's Day Parade in March, which features a single person dressed as a leprechaun; Thunder on the Tholocco, an annual powerboat race held each April; and the Children's Festival and Downtown SummerFest in May. Each June, the city hosts its annual BamaJam Music and Arts Festival, which features live entertainment from various musical acts, and in July, it hosts the Fourth of July FreedomFest. In September, the city celebrates its connection with Fort Rucker during the Aviation Expo, and in October, it hosts a Halloween Dance and the Boll Weevil Festival. In December, the city holds an annual Christmas Parade.
Claire M. Wilson
Published June 9, 2011
Last updated July 13, 2012