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Major employer coming to area

VALLEY — The Greater Valley Area and Chambers County have gotten a nice Christmas present in the form of the announcement of a major employer coming this way. It could mean more than 200 new jobs in the local area in the first phase of production and as many as 700 jobs when phases two and three are included over the next six to seven years.

John Soules Foods, based in Tyler, Texas, has purchased a 266,000-square-foot building off Towel Avenue in Valley for the purpose of expanding its production capabilities to a third plant. At present, the company has a plant in Tyler, Texas, and a second plant in Gainesville, Ga.

The building that’s been purchased is the former location of Kia supplier Daeil. Mando is presently in the building but is planning to relocate its production to much bigger plants in Opelika or in Meriwether County, Ga. The building should be available to John Soules Foods by March.

“This is an important and exciting expansion for John Soules Foods. With the additional manufacturing capabilities, we are creating a position to handle the growing needs of our customers that allow us to be more responsive across the Grocery and Food service markets,” said Mark Soules, Co-Chief Executive Officer of John Soules Foods.

“Our addition of the Alabama plant will expand our growth capabilities as well as add cross functionality between all our facilities. We have one of the most sophisticated and efficient workforces in the industry. We at John Soules Foods pride ourselves in providing exceptional customer service and innovative product development  with the highest levels of quality and food  safety,” said John Soules Jr., Co-Chief Executive Officer of John Soules Foods.

Founded in 1975, John Soules Foods is the nation’s leading formulator, manufacturer and marketer of ready-to-cook and fully-cooked beef and chicken products as well as fully cooked breaded chicken. The company’s products are sold under the John Soules Foods and ProView brands as well as a select number of private label brands for the country’s premier retailers. For more information about John Soules Foods and its products, visit www.johnsoulesfoods.c om.

During Phase 1 of production in the Valley plant, the company will add 210 employees and invest approximately $70 million in the facility. Phases 2 and 3 will add an additional 300 employees and invest another $40 million for a total investment in the $110 million range. When the three phases are complete, the company’s fully-cooked capabilities will increase by more than 100 million pounds a year.

Valley Mayor Leonard Riley is very excited about John Soules Foods coming to Valley.

“Within five years it could become the county’s largest employer,” he said. “It will mean a lot of jobs.”

The management-level jobs will pay in the $70,000-a-year range, the maintenance jobs around $22 an hour and the machine-operator jobs in the $12 an hour range. Unskilled laborers will be paid in the neighborhood of $11 an hour, which is significantly above the minimum wage.

The company has plans of expanding the Daeil building. At the outset there will be two production lines. This could expand to as many as five lines.

Riley and Tony Segrest, general manager of the East Alabama, Water, Sewer and Fire Protection Authority, visited the company’s plant in Georgia and came away favorably impressed.

“It’s a very clean, very efficient facility,” Mayor Riley said.

Something people need to understand from the outset is that it won’t be a slaughtering plant and shouldn’t be the source of bad smells and possible pollution problems.

Chambers County Development Authority (CCDA) Executive Director Valerie Gray lauded local elected officials for their role in getting the company to come to Chambers County. “A tremendous amount of team work and dedication went into bringing John Soules Foods to Valley and Chambers County,” she said. We are honored that this company has chosen our community to expand their operation.”

Gray said the effort to get them here spanned most of calendar year 2017.

“I am exceedingly grateful for the leadership demonstrated by Mayor Riley, Commission Chairs Debbie Wood and Charlie Williams and members of our CCDA Board of Directors. Without their commitment, along with several of our utility partners, this project could not have been possible.”

Gray added that John Soules Foods is an outstanding company with a national reputation for quality products.

“Their decision to locate here is a testament to our leadership, our community and our people,” she said. “John Soules Foods will be an asset to the county’s ever-growing industrial base  and will provide hundreds of high-paying jobs to our citizens.”

A central initiative of the CCDA’s focus is to diversify the county’s economic base.

“John Soules Foods is exactly the kind of company we want to bring to Chambers County,” Gray said. “Today’s announcement may be coming at the end of the year, but it’s just the beginning of the CCDA’s  strategy to bring diversity to Chambers County.”