Koch breaks ground on $55 million Attalla project

Donna Thornton / Times Staff Writer - Nov 5, 2019

State, city and Koch Foods officials shoveled corn instead of dirt Tuesday morning at the ground breaking for a $55 million grain storage and distribution facility to be located on Jones Sawmill Road in Attalla.

Gov. Kay Ivey was there, along with Koch Foods COO Mark Kaminsky, Norfolk-Southern Railroad’s industrial development manager for Alabama, Daniel Parker, state economic development leaders, members of the local legislative delegation, officials from Attalla and surrounding cities and Etowah County, and a host of local folks in government and economic development roles who had a hand in facilitating the announcement.

“It was the collective work of a collective body,” Gadsden-Etowah Industrial Development Authority Executive Director David Hooks said, “working together for a specific goal.”

The goal achieved: A feed mill that will help supply Koch Foods growers in surrounding counties.

Attalla Mayor Larry Means said the project is the biggest ever in his city, and one of the biggest in the state in terms of capital investment.

Ivey said the facility will bring about 28 “well-paying jobs” to the area. Payroll is expected to be $1 million annually, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

The 130-acre facility will have the ability to hold more than one million bushels of corn and will support the nearby processing plant in Gadsden.

That plant, Kaminsky noted, recently completed an expansion allowing it to process an additional 672,000 chickens each week.

Both Kaminsky and Matthew Herman, of Boaz, senior vice-president of fresh operations, talked about the company’s presence in the state. There are four processing plants — in Gadsden, Collinsville, Montgomery and Ashland — that employ more than 3,800 people and process 364 million birds a year.

Means talked about standing on Jones Sawmill Road three or four years ago with Herman, when the project was first discussed. He said it “went away for a while,” then came back.

Herman praised Attalla’s city leaders and staff their help. “From that day in the road, it’s been an easy transition to get here today,” he said, noting that city leaders helped the company work through any obstacles.

“We’re excited that Koch Foods has chosen Attalla for this large, high-tech facility. We are thankful to have 28 new, high-paying jobs in our community, and this facility will build on the strong focus on industry and innovation that are woven into the history of Attalla,” Means said.

“In addition to the long-term operational jobs, there will be over 200 people working to build the facility here in Attalla over the next 18 months,” he added. “The economic impact of construction alone will be huge for the City of Attalla and all of Etowah County.”

Hooks said the project had been in the works for about 15 months. Construction work in underway at the site now, and the facility is expected to become operational in fall 2021. The company will start assembling a management team in the first quarter of 2020 and will begin interviewing prospective production workers in early 2021.

Hooks said the Gadsden-Etowah IDA team, the City of Attalla and key partners including Norfolk Southern joined forces to bring the project to fruition. He noted that the Little Canoe Creek megasite owned by the Etowah County Commission is just 2 miles from Koch facility site. That site, like the one Koch Foods has begun work on in Attalla, is served directly by rail — a key selling point in marketing industrial property.

“This project qualifies for two of the industrial sectors the Gadsden-Etowah Industrial Development Authority has targeted — logistics and food and farming,” Hooks said. “Locating this state-of-the-art facility will go a long way in solidifying Etowah County’s position as a national leader in both sectors.”

Ivey noted the state’s record low unemployement level of 3.0 percent.

“It would have never been realized without top-notch companies like Koch coming and investing in Alabama,” Ivey said, adding that she hopes the company continues to do so.

Kamisky said Koch Foods has invested more than $300 million in Alabama since 2016.

“If I get my way, governor, it shall be more,” he said.

Click here to view the original Gadsden Times article.

Airport receives $1 million FAA grant

Michael Rodgers / Times Staff Writer - Aug 13, 2019

The City of Gadsden on Tuesday announced the acceptance of a $1 million grant for the Northeast Alabama Regional Airport, and the money will be used to rehabilitate the taxiway.

The grant, worth $1,044,172, comes from the Federal Aviation Administration, which will fund 90% of it. It includes a 5% match (a little more than $52,000) from both the State of Alabama and the Gadsden Airport Authority.

“This is an important investment and a critical next step in our plan to continue to improve the airport area,” Mayor Sherman Guyton said at the City Council meeting. “We appreciate the FAA’s ongoing commitment to the operations at the airport and to supporting the many activities that take place there, including the increasing military operations with the 20th Special Forces and other units.”

Guyton said the military groups that train at the airport have a large economic impact on Etowah County because some of them live here, some stay in hotels and they do things like shop and buy groceries locally.

He said there have been a number of other renovations in recent years, including some to office space at the facility.

Frankie Davis, the city’s director of governmental affairs and economic development, pointed out during the pre-council meeting that the area around the airport is seeing development with the recent location of Motus, a Tier-1 auto supplier, and work at the airport also helps facilitate other development plans.

The main runway at the airport was repaved in 2014, and this money will be used to rehabilitate the taxiway around the runway and also to improve drainage and protect the electrical vault that powers the airport.

Kenneth Gilbert of Neel-Schaffer Inc., consulting engineer for the airport, said in a press release that the taxiway is nearing the end of its life and renovations have been needed for years. He said they expect the project to be completed by the end of the year.

Click here to view the original Gadsden Times article.

Gadsden lands Tier 1 automotive supplier

Michael Rodgers / Times Staff Writer - Jul 16, 2019

A Tier 1 automotive supplier has chosen to locate a new manufacturing facility in Gadsden, and officials ranging from Mayor Sherman Guyton to Gov. Kay Ivey made the announcement Tuesday.

Motus Integrated Technologies will invest $16,225,000 in a new facility expected to bring more than 90 new jobs to the area.

“This is a great day for Gadsden and Etowah County, and we are proud to be able to recruit high-paying jobs and welcome a company like Motus to our area,” Guyton said at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

He said the ongoing investment in infrastructure, education and quality of life helped the city land the company.

“Motus is a premier global automotive supplier, and we are thrilled that they have selected the State of Alabama and Gadsden as the site for their new facility,” Ivey said in a press release. “This is yet another example of how Alabama continues to lead the way in growing manufacturing here at home.”

Motus manufactures headliners, automotive interior door and console armrests and other products through forming, injection molding and assembly operations.

In addition to locations in Germany, China, Mexico and Japan, the company has three locations in the United States: two in Michigan and one in Cottondale in Tuscaloosa County.

“We’re glad to be part of the community,” said Brent Turner, engineering manager for Motus.

The Gadsden site is expected to supply multiple auto manufacturers in the state, and the new 75,000-square-foot facility will be located on 12.86 acres off Airport Industrial Road between Interstate 59 and Rainbow City.

Pay for the new jobs will range between $40,000 and $71,374 per year plus fringe benefits, with an average wage of around $20 per hour.

“This is going to be bigger than most things that have happened here in a long time,” Guyton said.

The announcement was made in front of a packed house at the City Council meeting as officials from Motus, the Gadsden-Etowah Industrial Development Authority, the Etowah County Mayors’ Association, local and state representatives and more attended.

The council approved a 10-year abatement of all state and local non-educational property taxes and all construction-related transaction taxes, except for those that benefit education, capital improvements for education, and all mortgage and recording taxes.

That amounts to an abatement of $77,880 per year for those 10 years, and the construction abatement is estimated at $583,125.

Click here to view the original Gadsden Times article.

The Etowah Recipe for Success: Size, Location, Access and Workforce

Featured in Trade & Industry Development - May/June 2018 Edition, Pages 62-63

Little Canoe Creek Megasite Takes Center Stage for Development

Located in beautiful northeast Alabama, Etowah County is the twelfth most densely populated county in Alabama. This growing region provides easy access to two international airports, local commercial air service, interstate access, and a Class 1 rail system from Norfolk Southern that runs to the port of Mobile. The high concentration of automotive manufacturers and proximity to aerospace facilities make it ideal for those industries, as well as metalworking and food processing.

Named for the Cherokee term for “edible tree,” Etowah County was established on December 1st, 1868, by a state constitutional convention. With 535 square miles of land and 14 square miles of water, it is the smallest county in Alabama by square miles, but it boasts one of the highest population densities in the state.

It is also home to the largest megasite in North Alabama, Little Canoe Creek Certified AdvantageSite. The industrial development site is ready for any industry and will provide growth opportunities for not only foreign industries, but local ones as well.

Read the Full Article

Little Canoe Creek Interactive Timeline

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is set to visit the Little Canoe Creek AdvantageSite June 26, putting a bow on a decade of development at the site.

Now with the focus moving from AdvantageSite certification to marketing, the Etowah County Commission is hiring a full-time economic developer to head up the Etowah County Economic Alliance, a new position and department geared toward marketing Little Canoe Creek, with a side interest in working with existing industry.

Looking back at the project’s timeline, commissioners said that they were proud of what had been accomplished, even if there’s still plenty of work and time between now and the arrival of new industry.

“We had never ventured into any type of commercial property or advancement as far as land or buildings on a large scale,” said commissioner Larry Payne.

He and commissioners Tim Choate and Jeff Overstreet were commissioners when the project was first proposed, with a 675-acre purchase of land in 2008.

Overstreet said many associate the land with a proposed bingo facility, which 2008-era officials said would draw in 40,000 customers a week and create 2,000 jobs. However, the land wasn’t bought with that in mind, he said, and when that proposition faltered, it wasn’t as big of a blow in the long term as it might have seemed.

“We were looking for something that’s going to be more concrete and provide good-paying jobs, not based on disposable income,” Overstreet said.

Instead, the commission continued buying up acreage at the site, tucked into a southwest corner of the county along Interstate 59, amassing more than 1,100 acres by 2017. Economic development consultant Tucson Roberts was hired on a one-year contract in August that year, and he led the commission toward AdvantageSite certification and developing a new website, Payne said.

Overstreet cautioned residents to remember that the process of inviting industry takes time, with other, similar industrial sites seeing as many as 15 to 20 years pass from concept to sale.

Payne said biding time isn’t a disadvantage; his father once told him once that unlike some other investment options, land doesn’t lose value, he recalled.

“If you’ve got land, you’re never going to lose on it,” Payne said.

Overstreet laughed and responded, “They’re not making any more land.”

By: Benjamin Nunnally / Times Staff Writer

Published by The Gadsden Times on June 6, 2018

See the online version of this article at gadsdentimes.com for an interactive timeline featuring a decade of coverage on the Little Canoe Creek industrial site project.