Etowah County, Alabama is located along the Norfolk Southern Railway and Interstate Highway 59. Gadsden is an hour northeast of Birmingham, Alabama and 90 miles southwest of Chattanooga, Tennesee. Etowah County and its county seat Gadsden offer a unique value proposition for those in the agricultural business.  Gadsden was founded as an industrial city but its southern location along the Coosa River and in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountain chain provides the fertile soil and long growing season that makes it an ideal location for any agricultural endeavor.

This geographic advantage extends to logistics and transportation. Gadsden is strategically located in the Southeast, USA. These location advantages led The Gadsden-Etowah Industrial Development Authority (IDA) to identify food and farming as one of its six targeted industries.

For generations, Gadsden has maintained a robust agricultural base, which ramped up as the other industries drew down. The region now has 93 agricultural entities, including major poultry operations that employ thousands of workers. In 2019, Koch Foods increased its Alabama footprint with a $55 million grain storage and distribution facility. The property is one of the largest and most technologically advanced facilities of its type in the entire world. Southern Cold Storage of Alabama maintains a 103,000 square foot cold storage facility in the county, sited on a 90-acre Tyson Foods development, which puts chicken into final packaging and stores poultry until it is shipped all over the world. There are two other cold storage facilities in the county: Americold and Millard Refrigerator Services.

Further, the local workforce is cited as one of the area’s best resources for the agricultural industry. Jacksonville State University, University of Alabama-Gadsden Center, and Gadsden State Community College all have agricultural programs from which businesses can draw talent. Recruitment across all business sectors has been bolstered by the Alabama Industrial Development Training Program and the Alabama Technology Network.

The Gadsden-Etowah IDA can help companies locating in the county to coordinate training and incentive programs. Agricultural businesses that provide value-add services get similar incentives to manufacturers in Alabama. There is a combination of incentives and tax exemptions available from state and local governments for those who qualify.

In Alabama, every season is growing season. Year over year, the skilled hands behind Alabama’s food production businesses prove there is a green thumb behind what gives the state agriculture industry a national reputation.

Every year, Alabama’s soil is tilled for all types of success. Around 40,000 farms on 8.9 million acres of in the state yield a bounty of agriculture products. Alabama ranks second among the states in freshwater fish production, third in poultry production, third in peanut production, and in the Top 10 for cotton production. The real workhorse here is Alabama’s 33,000-strong agriculture workforce, whose hard work produced $276 million worth of food and beverage exports in 2018.

When you consider all of this in the context of what the State of Alabama has to offer in the agriculture sector  Gadsden, Alabama must be considered if you are looking to be in the Food and Farming Industry in the South.

Quick Facts About Alabama

  • Food and beverage exports from Alabama increased from $123 million in 2000 to $276 million in 2018
  • Food and beverage product industries employ over 33,000 workers
  • Accounts for over 13 percent of manufacturing jobs
  • Over 400 production and beverage product establishments in Alabama
  • 8.5 million acres of farm land
  • No. 2 in U.S. freshwater fish sales
  • No. 3 in U.S. poultry production
  • No. 3 in U.S. peanut production

Agriculture Products & Food Production Companies

  • Wayne Farms
  • R.L. Zeigler
  • Sunshine Mills
  • Priester’s Pecan Co.
  • Keystone
  • Mrs. Stratton’s Salads
  • Tyson Foods
  • Lancaster Colony
  • Red Diamond Tea & Coffee
  • Bud’s Best Cookies
  • Alaga
  • Koch Foods
  • Royal Cup Coffee
  • Barber Dairies
  • Buffalo Rock
  • Golden Flake Snack Foods
  • Pilgrim’s Pride
  • Golden State Foods
  • Mar-Jac Poultry
  • To Your Health Sprouted Flour Co.
  • Coca-Cola United
  • ConAgra
  • John Soules Food