Gadsden City Council Briefed On Industry Recruitment

Industrial projects the Gadsden City Council was briefed on this week included good and bad news — six projects will be locating here while two chose other locations.

Gadsden/Etowah Industrial Development Authority Executive Director Mike McCain told the council Tuesday the IDA is working on a couple dozen other projects as well, trying to take them from the point of submitting a presentation about what Gadsden offers to being a semifinalist, a finalist and then an announcement.

McCain said Koch Foods announced in March a$7.5 million expansion that would add 70 new jobs at an average wage of $27,000 a year. Decatur Plastics, which announced a $1 million plant employing 50, is producing parts at the plant in the Gadsden Commerce Center.

McCain said Prince Metal Stamping is finishing the installation of machinery and equipment in its 240,000-square-foot,

$18 million plant in the Airport Industrial Park.

He said the plant is expected to be operational by the end of the summer but the company has not released the number it will employ.

Three other projects are in the planning stages, McCain said.

The owner of Five Star Industrial Services, an industrial equipment service company, is working with a local bank and the Small Business Administration to complete financing for a project that will include construction of a 20,000-plus-square-foot building in the Airport Industrial Park.

McCain said the plant employs 50 at its location in Glencoe and will expand to 60 when it moves to Gadsden.

Wages average $50,000 per year plus benefits. He said the jobs are multi-craft equipment maintenance technicians with knowledge and experience in mechanics, hydraulics, pneumatics and electronics.

McCain said “Project Blue Knight” has selected a site on Airport Road for an eletrocoating operation to serve Honda and other automotive manufacturers that would create about 50 jobs.

The company’s president visited Gadsden on March 10 and hopes to obtain capital investment from the parent company in Japan.

McCain said a Chinese firm is also interested in Gadsden. He said the general manager will return in June along with associates and said they plan to use the former Goodyear Warehouse to distribute kitchen cabinets along the east coast of the United States.

Two other projects IDA has been working did not materialize.

The site-selection consultant for “Project Piston” notified IDA in March that it had narrowed its search to two states and for reasons having to do with the location of existing operations and proximity to key clients, Alabama was no longer a candidate.

An auto supplier made a written offer in January to lease the former Custom Panels/United Casework building in the Gadsden Commerce Center for a 50-job automotive parts consolidation, packaging and distribution operation to serve Honda and others but had lost a customer, making space available at its headquarters. It withdrew the offer to lease the building.

McCain said since the IDA was established, 29 projects it is credited with helping are operating today, representing 2,440 jobs, or half of the manufacturing jobs in the county.

He said those businesses have a $65 million payroll and generate $1.3 million on occupational license fees.

The OLFs, a 2 percent tax on wages, provide a 3-to-1 return on the city’s $425,000 contribution to the IDA.

McCain said the IDA helped save 1,915 jobs at three industries that were at risk of closing.

By Andy Powell, Times Staff Writer