Expansions define economic news

Photo by Jerry Martin

When St. Clair Economic Development Council Executive Director Don Smith looks back over the past few months and ahead to the coming ones, he can’t help but smile.

Four industries have announced expansions, the new St. Vincent’s St. Clair Hospital has opened, a candy manufacturer is coming to Moody and the Veteran’s Home construction is still on schedule to open in June.

With the four expansion announcements alone, it amounts to 305 new jobs and an employment investment of $27 million.

Eissmann, a German manufacturer based in Pell City that makes leather dashboards for high end automobiles, like Mercedes, expanded at the beginning of the year by 40 employees. With new contracts with other companies on the horizon, another 35 employees are to be hired, Smith said.

For WKW, also a Pell City Industrial Park resident, the expansion means adding 200 more employees to its roster.

In northern St. Clair County, Yachio is adding 60 employees at its Steele plant and Rainbird is increasing its Steele workforce by 10 employees.

Indie Candy, an allergen free candy maker, anticipates creating 25 jobs in Moody when production begins.

Smith credit’s the atmosphere created by visionary leaders that are conducive to business as catalysts for continued growth of Alabama’s fastest growing county.

“Our local officials have been working hard to ensure this county had adequate infrastructure and community support to be successful on an international stage,” he said. “The job of the EDC is not just to recruit, but to work with companies constantly from that day forth to be as successful as they possibly can. We work closely with our superintendents of education and Jefferson State Community College to connect what’s taught with skill sets needed in our community and the region.”

Looking back at 2011, Smith said the county was “very blessed” with the hospital opening, expansions, new announcements and retail.

“These expansions are proof that our elected officials made the environment in St. Clair County fertile for growth,” Smith said. The county commission has always been proactive in recruiting and retaining quality companies, particularly in our manufacturers,” Smith said.

Looking ahead in 2012, St. Clair is “poised for continued growth,” Smith said. “I wish we could help with residential construction,” he said, but the EDC’s work fostering the creation of jobs should help in that arena.

— Article courtesy of Discover St. Clair
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