Report highlights county’s economic growth
Published 10:58 am Thursday, June 19, 2014
Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon used to worry about whether or not local officials could attract enough jobs to the area.
That’s not something that keeps him up at night these days.
“I don’t worry about that anymore,” McLendon said. “I know we can bring jobs to the area. Now I worry more about whether or not we will have the people to fill them.”
McLendon points to a report issued in May by the Alabama Department of Commerce detailing new and expanding industry announcements as one of the reasons he’s sleeping better at night.
The report shows that Butler County was one of 29 counties in Alabama with at least one new industry announcement in 2013.
In May of 2013 Ozark Materials announced it would establish a new production facility in Greenville. The plant, which was initially expected to create 40 jobs, produces thermoplastic. Thermoplastic is a polymer that becomes pliable or moldable at a specific temperature, and returns to a solid state upon cooling. The material is used to stripe roads across the state. Ozark Materials announced in January that it now expects to employ 80 people at its Greenville facility.
Butler County ranked 13th in expanding industry capital investment ($47,675,000). AIA Recycling, Coastal Forest Products, Hwashin America, Kajan Perfection, Key Safety Restraint Systems and REF Alabama all announced expansions in 2013.
One of the key changes in Butler County’s economic development philosophy during the past two years has been to focus more heavily on companies already located in the county.
“Your best friends are the companies that are already here,” McLendon said. “We want to attract new industries to the area, but we also want to make sure we are doing everything we can to help companies that are already doing business here. If we can help them find ways to positively impact their bottom line it’s going to help out community. If they make a bigger profit it’s likely they are going to turn around and invest that money back in their company, which is really an investment in our community. They may start a new line or project that is going to create more jobs for citizens in Butler County. By helping our existing industries we are helping our people.”
In 2013, Butler County ranked 15th in expanding industry jobs created (198), 15th in total capital investment ($50,875,000), and 19th in total new jobs (238).
“These numbers are representative of a total team effort,” said David Hutchison, executive director of the Butler County Commission for Economic Development. “It is an example of what can happen when city and county governments work together with private business. It is the result of existing industries and one new company making a choice to invest, grow and create job opportunities in rural Alabama.”
Companies launching operations in Alabama or expanding existing facilities in the state announced nearly 17,000 new jobs and more than $4.4 billion in capital investment during 2013.
The New and Expanding Industries Report shows that 62 companies announced new operations in Alabama last year, bringing a total of 5,179 jobs and $2 billion in capital investment to the state. Another 383 companies announced expansions in Alabama, involving 11,668 jobs and nearly $2.4 billion in investment.
“We have made significant progress over the last three years to create well-paying jobs for the people of Alabama,” Gov. Robert Bentley said. “More companies are choosing Alabama because we have the right business climate, low taxes and the best trained workforce of any state in the country. Thanks to the plan we put in place three years ago, Accelerate Alabama, we are targeting the industries we know can be successful in Alabama. We will not stop our efforts to recruit new companies and help companies expand in Alabama.”