GROUNDBREAKING Ceremony welcomes first tenant at industrial park
BY WAYNE CLARK TIMES-NEWS
VALLEY — A groundbreaking ceremony took place Wednesday morning to welcome what will be the first tenant in the Valley Industrial Park. More tenants are likely to follow in the coming years. Site preparation was already taking place on the far end of the 30-acre site as local government officials, Chambers County Development Authority Board President Bobby Williams, Alabama Department of Commerce representative Ted Clem, WestRock General Manager Neil Taylor and Scannell Properties Vice President Don Tuttle discussed the new WestRock Distribution Center that will be going up on the site. Assembled guests listening to them sat at tables that had drink cartons as centerpieces. Though it may have been nice to have had some cool refreshments on this warm day, the cartons were examples of the products that are being manufactured in the nearby WestRock Lanett plant.
The plant has experienced some phenomenal growth since it began as a Mead Corp. plant in 1996. It has grown from 20 employees to 382 since that time. There are five lines at full capacity making those cartons, and a new distribution center is on the way to have a more efficient means of getting products to market.
“What this industrial park is all about is bringing jobs back to the community,” said Mayor Leonard Riley. “We want people who live here to not have to travel out of the community to work. We want to welcome Scannell Properties and WestRock. They are our first tenants.”
Scannell has purchased the 30-acre site behind the Lanier-Carter buildings and will build a 375,000-square-foot warehouse that will be leased to WestRock.
“This project will add 50 more jobs,” said Riley. “We are gratified for this commitment on the part of Scannell Properties and WestRock. We hope this will be a catalyst for economic development for the City of Valley, Chambers County and the surrounding area.”
“We believe this is going to be a world-class distribution center,” said Neil Taylor. “We want to thank Scannell Properties, the Chambers County Commission and the cities of Valley and Lanett. This is going to be a sister-city operation.”
Taylor said the WestRock plant had been a very busy place for the past 22 years.
“We are pleased to have seen steady growth. We have five lines that are at capacity. We want to thank Chambers County for providing us your talent on a daily basis. We have a total of 382 employees, most of whom are from this area, and have more than 200 customers all over the U.S. You helped make our growth happen, and we thank you for that,” he said.
“We are very gratified to have this kind of investment in Chambers County,” said Commission Chairman Charlie Williams. “It’s our mission to bring new job opportunities to the county. Thank you, WestRock and Scannell Properties for seeing the beauty and benefits of Chambers County and deciding to put this new distribution center here. We hope this is the beginning of a great, new partnership.”
Ted Clem, director of business development for the Alabama Department of Commerce, said that he’d been making a number of trips to Chambers County in recent years.
“That’s a testament to the local leadership you have,” he said. “In terms of job creation, Chambers County is a leader in our state. This is the result of having a good location, making good decisions and being willing to put in some hard work.”
Clem said that it had been a good experience to work with WestRock and Scannell.
“WestRock is committed to their employees and the communities they serve,” he said. “Congratulations on what’s taking place here today, and we congratulate you on continuing to grow in the community.”