Industrial Prospects Bring Hope For 2013

The Gadsden-Etowah Industrial Development Authority will start 2013 with seven active industrial prospects considering locating here, which is more activity than a year ago, according to Executive Director Mike McCain.

McCain in an interview said the prospects include automotive and aviation related industries, metal fabrication, an electronic components manufacturer and a food equipment manufacturing company.

“We’ve got some good project activity, which is encouraging,” he said.

McCain said decisions on most of the projects would be made sometime in 2013.

A site at the Airport Industrial Park is a semifinalist as a location for an overseas electronic components manufacturer that would employ 400 to 450, and a decision should be made before the end of January.

The site also is under consideration as a location for an automotive manufacturer that would employ 450 people, he said. A decision is expected in the first quarter of the year.

McCain said a secondary site is available if both prospects choose Gadsden.

“This will be a first-come, first-serve type of deal,” he said.

Sites near the airport are under consideration by two aviation-related companies, McCain said. Both are long term and there is no timetable for a decision.

A food equipment manufacturing company is evaluating an available building in the Gadsden Industrial Park. A decision is expected by spring.

An out-of-state company has made an offer to purchase an existing building for a small metal fabricating plant. McCain said that project should be completed in January or February.

Gadsden is a finalist for a project involving an existing building for a processing operation that would create about 100 new jobs, McCain said. A decision is expected in the first quarter of the year.

McCain said the Etowah County Commission site at Little Canoe Creek now is listed by the state’s database as an available industrial site, which required a good bit of work. Additional work is under way to have the site designated as an industrial “megasite,” which will require additional engineering and environmental work and other documentation.

“We’ve been working with them on that,” McCain said.

One of IDA’s goals for 2013, McCain said, is to help influence the creation or retention of 500 direct or indirect jobs.

“That’s ambitious,” he said, “but we aim not only to hit it, but exceed it.”

The IDA will continue to focus on recruiting jobs paying more than $10 an hour, fringe benefits.

McCain said most of the industrial activity in the Southeast is automotive related, since the original equipment manufacturers have been increasing production. That has resulted in volumes that justify second- and third-tier manufacturers to expand and add new facilities.

“It would be remiss of us not to take advantage of that opportunity,” McCain said, noting that Gadsden is “almost exactly” in the middle between the Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance and the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga. Gadsden’s proximity to Honda in Lincoln also reduces freight costs and transit time.

McCain said those second- and third-tier suppliers usually supply multiple companies.

By Andy Powell
Times Staff Writer