Guyton Gives Upbeat Report On Economic Development

Gadsden Mayor Sherman Guyton gave an upbeat report Wednesday, saying things are looking up concerning economic development.

Guyton told the Gadsden Kiwanis Club there has been a good bit of industrial development activity recently, including the startup of Fehrer Automotive, a supplier for the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Narmco Group’s purchase of the former Rigid Building Systems Building for a metal stamping operation.

Inteva Products will invest $9 million and call back 60 laid-off workers and hire an additional 40 employees.

Guyton said Gadsden is in the “final four” for a heavy machinery parts-making company that would employ about 150, but did not give additional details.

“We’re working on that real hard,” Guyton said.

“We want to be in a competitive location.

“We want be where we can go after them, we’ve got the infrastructure. Airport Road is four-laned.”

The city also has a new fire station in that area and 500 to 600 acres of property ready for development.

He said when a developer comes to town, it doesn’t want to wait for two years or so to do something.

“They’re ready to do something then, so we’ve got the attraction and we’re putting out feelers in a lot of different places,” Guyton said. “We’re hoping to get more business out there as soon as possible.”

Other positive developments Guyton noted include:

• A new career tech center at Gadsden City High School.

• Gadsden State Community College receiving $1.4 million in grants to upgrade the Alabama Technology Center.

• A new industrial training center at Gadsden State.

• Completion of more than 3,000 property nuisance abatement cases in the Save our Neighborhood program, plus removal of 500 derelict or untagged cars. “All that goes into keeping a clean and safe neighborhood,” Guyton said.

• More police officers are on the street.

• A pilot program supplying iPads for fourth- and fifth-graders at Thompson Elementary. The program should go systemwide next year.

• Jack’s Family Restaurant’s new location on Rainbow Drive is doing well. A new Jack’s is being built at Noccalula Falls Park, along with a new playground.

• The city had to use reserve funds to balance the budget, but the only areas over budget are garbage, gas and oil and utilities.

“We’re hoping that things are going to get better,” Guyton said.

• More interest in commercial and retail development, with new businesses in the Gadsden Mall as well as a Zaxby’s on Rainbow Drive.

“We’re just working on everything,” Guyton said. “I think we’re in really good shape.

By Andy Powell
Times Staff Writer