With the economy showing some signs of improvement as the unemployment rate drops locally and statewide, interest in industrial expansion is beginning to increase, according to Mike McCain, executive director of the Gadsden-Etowah Industrial Development Authority.
The county’s unemployment rate has dropped for five straight months and is at its lowest level since December 2008.
Statewide, the unemployment rate is at 8.7 percent, the lowest level for the year.
“Collaborating those statistics, our activity has picked up as well,” McCain said Friday.
He said that information the IDA maintains on available buildings on the state’s database of industrial property was accessed 40 times and information about industrial sites in the county was accessed 32 times in November. That represents an increase of about 25 percent over last year’s numbers.
McCain said local businesses have increased hiring, but some are having trouble finding trained workers, which he said illustrates the need for technical training in high school and at Gadsden State Community College.
He said the drop in unemployment locally can be attributed in part to the Volkswagen plant locating in Chattanooga, Tenn., and expansions at Mercedes-Benz in Vance and Honda in Lincoln.
The NARMCO Group, a Mercedes-Benz supplier, is expanding and Fehrer Automotive, a Volkswagen supplier, is hiring. Inteva Products, a Mercedes supplier, is also expanding.
McCain said the area is under consideration by another automotive related company.
“Right now, we’re one of four finalists for another automotive parts manufacturer,” he said.
By Andy Powell
Times Staff Writer