Chambers County Development Authority's Year in Review

on January 8, 2015

It was another strong year for economic development in Chambers County according to the Chambers County Development Authority’s Year in Review report released last week. The report notes that new and existing industries made $91.796 million in capital investments and 543 new jobs were created in 2014.

There were five industry expansions last year and two new projects announced and the most recent unemployment rate reported for Chambers County was 5.8 percent, the lowest it’s been in seven years.

Currently the CCDA is working 26 active projects, including 17 industrial, five retail and four commercial.

“The CCDA’s willingness to work with industry has allowed us continued success in bringing jobs to Chambers County,” Kimberly Carter, Family Support Coordinator and Business retention Specialist at the CCDA said. “With many existing industries visits and prospect visits, our office was able to bring in millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs to this community this past year. By making sure we keep the lines of communication open, we continues to show us success.”

The first expansion of the year came in February, when Leehan America, located in the Chambers County Industrial Park, announced a $2 million expansion that created 17 jobs.

The first company to locate in the Chambers County Industrial Park, Great Lakes Metal Stamping, announced an expansion in April. The expansion will create two additional jobs and include a $1.5 million capital investment.

The county landed a new industry later in April when Hantal Alabama, Inc announced plans to locate in the Chambers County Industrial Park. The company, which specializes in E-coating, packaging and automotive parts, is making a $20 million capital investment and creating 200 jobs initially.

Another new project came to light in June, when KMIN, USA announced a $20 million investment to locate their stamping and welding operation at the Fairfax Complex in Valley. The company is bringing 200 new jobs.

An expansion and relocation was announced in May, with C&C Fabrication moving to the former Baldwin Facility in Huguley and investing $1.906 million in an expansion. The company will create six new jobs.

Meadwestvaco (MWV) announced a major expansion in June. The company, which is located in the Huguley Industrial Park, will invest $16.39 million and create 18 jobs.

Knauf Insulation made a big move this year as well. They company reopened their Huguley operation in April of 2013 and they reaffirmed their commitment to Chambers County two months ago when they announced a $30 million expansion. When Knauf reopened last year they made an investment of $49 million and created 144 jobs.

The new expansion will create 100 additional jobs.

The end of the year brought another big announcement for Chambers County, as Norbord Alabama, Inc. appears to be gearing up for a return to the area. The Chambers County Commission approved a project agreement with the company to reopen the oriented strand board plant located in Huguley. Norbord closed the plant in the midst of the housing market crash, but said last year they were looking into resuming production. The new project agreement is a big step in making that happen.

The agreement calls for the creation of 112 jobs by the first quarter of 2017 and would include a capital investment of $45 million to upgrade the facility and to prepare for resumed operations.

Discussing other future plans, Carter says the CCDA will bring a new initiative to the forefront, diversity. “Our industrial base is steady, the workforce is growing and unemployment is down,” she said. “The focus for our office for the upcoming years will be a diversification plan. The last thing we want is for our community to be too heavily saturated in one industry. We have the ability to handle multiple industry clusters and now we have to prove it.”

Article Written by Chris Busby, Lafayette Sun (link for LS:

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