Several projects on which the Gadsden-Etowah Industrial Development Authority has worked for several years will add new jobs to the local economy in 2014, according to Executive Director Mike McCain.
McCain said most of those jobs will be automotive related, as are several other projects on which the IDA is working.
“It’s something that we’ve really been trying to capitalize on,” he said, “because that’s one of the few industry segments that are growing right now and where suppliers are locating plants.”
McCain described 2013 as a good year, considering the economic slowdown that has reduced project activity, and said 2014 “will be better.”
Since projects often take several years to come to fruition, he said, it’s sometimes difficult to credit growth to a specific year.
“The things that we work on, the projects that we work, on are multi-year projects almost invariably,” McCain said. “It’s tough to report on specific events in one year when the activity is really a multi-year activity.”
However, he expects a number of those multi-year projects to come online in 2014. He expects the unemployment rate to continue to decline, and predicts an increase in total employment and wage growth assuming there is not another economic slump.
“What we have seen recently, and what we’re continuing to see, has been pretty doggone impressive,” McCain said.
Specifically, Decatur Plastics Products has finished renovating a building it purchased in the Gadsden Commerce Center. McCain said the company is ordering new equipment and will be adding about 50 new employees in the first quarter of the year. The Gadsden City Council approved tax incentives for the project in 2012. Company officials said then that the timetable was uncertain.
Prince Metal Stamping, which purchased the former Rigid Building Systems building, is installing equipment for an $18 million automotive parts manufacturing facility that was announced in 2011. This is the company’s third plant here. McCain said it did not announce the number of jobs it would be adding.
Fehrer Automotive selected its Gadsden plant, which opened in 2010 in the former Advanced Automotive distribution center, for additional production, McCain said. The company signed a new, long-term lease for the remaining half of the 238,000 square-foot-building.
McCain said the employment at the plant already exceeds 200, but Fehrer — the first Volkswagen supplier to locate a new plant in Alabama — has not announced how many employees will be added for the new production.
Inteva Products, which will begin producing sunroofs for Mercedes Benz, also is adding equipment and will add about 80 employees this year, McCain said.
Stamped Products in East Gadsden also is adding automotive-related equipment and jobs. Company President Harold Weaver said the Gadsden City Council approved non-education tax abatements for $2.5 million in equipment for the plant in September. He said the company added six jobs last year, bringing the total to 166, and about 12 more will be added this year.
McCain said Goodyear is continuing to add new equipment as part of the plant’s modernization.
He said Gadsden is a finalist for a $15 million project planned by a Honda supplier. A decision on the project is expected in the first quarter of the year.
McCain said a food processor is considering the former Keystone Foods plant for a new operation, and a firm is considering a building in Attalla for a new plastic injection molding operation.
Premier Metal Deck Forms, which manufactures metal decking for bridges, opened in May in Sardis City. It is expected to eventually employ about 30 people.
Pacific Trading has constructed a metal processing plant in the Gadsden Industrial Park and will employ about 30 to 40, McCain said.
By Andy Powell
Times Staff Writer