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.