Valley council approves John Soules Food agreement (Jan. 9, 2018)
VALLEY — The Valley City Council has unanimously approved a proposed project agreement with John Soules Alabama LLC providing incentives to the locating of a new business in the City of Valley.
It’s a four-party agreement involving the city, the Chambers County Development Authority (CCDA), the Chambers County Commission and John Soules Foods Alabama LLC.
On Monday, CCDA representative Kimberly Carter discussed the proposal with the council. “We started working on this project in February 2017,” she said. “They were looking for an existing building. They are headquartered in Tyler, Texas, and have a top-notch, USDA-approved facility in Gainesville, Ga. that’s inspected weekly.”
The existing building they have settled on is a 266,000-square-foot building off Towel Avenue that once served as a towel distribution center for WestPoint Home and more recently a Hyundai/Kia parts supplier operated by Daeil and Mando.
When Mando moves out of the building in March, John Soules Foods will begin to reconfigure the building for their first production line, which could open in late 2019. There will be an initial investment of around $70 million to get the plant up and running. An estimated 210 people will be employed in this first phase. Over the next three or four years or so, another $40 million will be invested to include additional lines.
This could boost employment to around 500 people, making the plant one of – if not the largest – employer in Chambers County.
Most of the jobs will pay around $11 to $12 an hour, which is well above the minimum wage.
Carter said that John Soules Foods does not process live chickens. They bring in frozen chicken and store it in freezers on site. On their production lines, they cut, season and cook chicken and package it for markets. Fuller said that she’s seen John Soules Foods products in Valley Walmart. She encouraged local people to try their products.
“If they are coming here we should support them and purchase their products,” she said. The local plant should go into production in late 2019 or 2020 and should be in full employment by 2023-24.
Carter said that the company would be getting tax abatements on the improvements they will be bringing to the building but not on what they purchased. Under state law, there are no abatements for school taxes.
“We could not do our job without the support we get from you guys, from the county and from the other cities,” Carter said.
“We appreciate what you do in the way of economic development,” said Mayor Riley. That comment drew a loud round of applause from members of the council and townspeople present at the meeting.
“We appreciate your hard work on this project and other projects the CCDA is working on,” continued Riley. “It is so much better for us all when all local entities are working together and are on the same page. In five to seven years. John Soules Foods could be the largest employer in Chambers County. This is really big news for the entire local area. I want to welcome them to the community. Their being here will help the local economy.”
The mayor said that it might be good that the company is family owned and not a stockholder-owned business.
In another item related to industrial development, the council unanimously approved a five-page resolution drafting restrictive covenants for the Valley Industrial Park.
The covenants are very similar for what’s already in place for the Huguley Industrial Park, the Chambers County Industrial Park off I-85 at Exit 70 in Cusseta and a number of other similar sites. “We looked at a lot of industrial parks,” said Planning & Development Director Travis Carter.
The city owns close to 800 acres not far from the Interstate that is being planned for industrial development. One of the restrictive covenants that has been adopted involves subdividing property. In the event an industrial prospect would purchase a relatively large tract of land, they would have to get the city’s permission in advance if they ever decided to subdivide that land.
Mayor Riley said the city has had discussions with industrial prospects that are interested in purchasing land in the industrial park and have asked if there are covenants. “That’s why we are doing this,” he said.