Mr. Cottrell has the right idea

Published 1:27 pm Saturday, March 28, 2009

An Alabama pharmacist decided to do something about it.

Instead of taking the “wait and see” approach to the economy, Danny Cottrell has created his own stimulus program to benefit his hometown of Brewton, Ala.

The small-town pharmacist, who prefers Coca-Cola to sweet tea, recently handed out $16,000 in $2 bills to his employees at the Medical Center Pharmacy for them to spend throughout the town and to give a portion to those in need.

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Cottrell handed out $700 to full-time staff and $300 to part-timers to let his employees know their jobs are not in jeopardy and to encourage buying local.

“A lot of my employees went into stores they hadn’t been to before,” Cottrell said, who received $700 himself.

The rules were simple.

The funds had to be spent in town, with 15 percent given to someone who needed it more than the employee.

“It worked out pretty good,” Cottrell said.

Cottrell is a Brewton native who started working at the pharmacy when he was 15 doing odds and ends. He went to school to be a pharmacist, returned to the store, and has been a pharmacist there since 1979. Along the way, he married his high school sweetheart and has built a reputation as a well-respected Brewton resident.

He is a past Brewton “Citizen of the Year.”

“The town of Brewton has been good to us,” Cottrell said.

Brewton, which is situated roughly 55 miles north of Pensacola, Fla., has a population of roughly 7,500 when combined with East Brewton.

With a town of that size, Cottrell said it’s been fairly easy to track the progress of his home-grown stimulus program.

“With a town of 7,500 and a total of $16,000 in $2 bills, you’re going to run into them somewhere,” he said.

At last count, Cottrell said his employees had spent the funds at more than 65 businesses around town.

“All in all, we’re glad we did it,” he said.

The town’s residents are too.

Kerry Whipple Bean, publisher of Brewton’s twice-weekly newspaper, The Brewton Standard, called the program amazing and something that’s been a big boost for the community.

The Brewton Standard was the first to report the story.

“People were surprised by the act, but not surprised Danny was the person who did it,” she said.

As for Cottrell’s employees, they seem to have appreciated the gesture, even though they were a little anxious when their boss first called a surprise meeting.

“I try to take good care of my employees,” Cottrell said. “They were worried about getting laid off when I first called the meeting and now they want another meeting.”

I hope people take notice of Danny Cottrell and learn from him. He’s the person who refused to accept the “wait and see” approach and decided one day to do something about it.