Etowah County to let bids for megasite improvements

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Dustin Fox @GT_DustinFox / Apr 22, 2020 at 1:51 PM

The Etowah County Commission will soon begin accepting bids for a mass grading project at the Little Canoe Creek Megasite after passing a resolution during a virtual meeting held on Tuesday.

The bid would allow for a portion of the more than 1,000 acres to be cleared and made pad-ready as the county continues to seek industries to occupy the location.

That aligns with a $2.7 million site-improvement project announced in January that was funded through the state’s Growing Alabama Credit program and a donation from the Norfolk Southern Corporation.

That project includes grading part of the project to create a pad-ready rail-served site and adding a new railroad crossing to the industrial access road off U.S. Highway 11, as well as other improvements.

The bid will be let following the completion of plans created by engineering firm Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood.

“GMC is 100% complete with their plans and they are ready whenever the county approves to go out for bids,” said Marilyn Lott, economic development director for Etowah County.

While they are planning to remove trees and grade 60 acres of land, they will accept bids for a backup 50-acre plan. Lott said the bid would include both so that it would not need to be rebid if the 60-acre plan proved too expensive.

Chief Administrative Officer Shane Ellison said the county has consulted with GMC to see if contractors were still bidding during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, and said the engineering firm recommended pushing back the bids to mid-May. Ellison said he expects it to be later in May before the bids actually go out.

Commissioner Tim Ramsey asked what the timeline for the project would be, and Lott said it should take about six months — meaning that if work began in June, it could be finished by December unless there were delays because of the coronavirus or weather.

Click here to view the original Gadsden Times article.

$2.7-Million Site Improvements Planned for Little Canoe Creek Mega-Site

Gadsden, AL - January 21, 2020 - Plans are underway for a $2.7-million site-improvement project for the Little Canoe Creek Mega-Site funded through the state’s Growing Alabama Credit program. The Etowah County Commission’s application was approved by the Renewal of Alabama Commission in December, and funding has been secured through a Norfolk Southern Corporation donation.

The project will include grading a portion of the over 1,000-acre property to create a pad-ready rail-served site sufficient to accommodate a large industry. Natural gas lines will be relocated near the edge of the property, and a new railroad crossing will be added to the industrial access road off U.S. Highway 11.

Marilyn Lott, Economic Development Director for Etowah County, said the improvements will enhance the site’s marketability by reducing a company’s construction timeline, saving time and money. “The mega-site has many location advantages for industrial recruitment and this project will improve upon its assets and greatly increase our overall competitiveness,” Lott said. “We’re very grateful to Daniel Parker and company officials of Norfolk Southern and to the Department of Commerce for partnering with us on this project.”

“The Little Canoe Creek Mega-Site is designated as a Norfolk Southern Prime Site, having been thoroughly reviewed for rail access and certified by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama,” said Chris Ingraham, Norfolk Southern’s Assistance Vice President of Industrial Development. “Norfolk Southern is pleased to partner with Etowah County and the state of Alabama to develop a rail-served industrial site that will generate mutual benefits for all parties involved, including increased opportunity for new jobs and private investment across the region.”

The Growing Alabama Credit program, administered by the Alabama Department of Commerce, allows private companies and individuals to get a dollar-for-dollar tax credit up to 50% of their income tax liability for investing in approved projects, including site preparation for industrial sites. “This infrastructure improvement project at the Little Canoe Creek Mega-Site perfectly illustrates how we can use the Growing Alabama Credit as a tool to facilitate growth and expand employment,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “It also underscores how true collaboration can advance the goals of economic development in our state.”

The Etowah County Commission began purchasing the Little Canoe Creek Mega-Site property in 2008. The site is adjacent to Interstate 59 in Attalla and located on a Norfolk Southern mainline. In 2018, the site earned the “Alabama AdvantageSite” designation, which means all the necessary due diligence typically needed by companies and site selection consultants during the evaluation process has been completed.

“These types of partnerships are vital in helping the County Commission reach our longstanding goal of seeing high-paying jobs at the mega-site,” said Jeffery Washington, President of the Etowah County Commission. “We truly appreciate this funding made possible by Norfolk Southern and the state.”

Lott said, “This investment in our community will move us one step closer to seeing significant economic growth in the region as a direct result of the mega-site. We appreciate the support from our elected officials, Gadsden-Etowah IDA, and other economic development partners. Working together, we will make the mega-site a success.”

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.