Distribution center coming to Valley

Published 10:04 am Tuesday, January 30, 2018

VALLEY — For the second time in a little more than a month, the City of Valley has made a major announcement in the way of new industry coming to the local community.

In December, it disclosed that John Soules Foods will be locating a plant in Valley, creating several hundred new jobs. Last night, it announced that a 400,000-square-foot distribution center is going to be built in the city’s new industrial park. It’s a $20 million project that will create an estimated 55 jobs.

The city council unanimously agreed to enter into contract with Scannell Properties No. 319, LLC on the sale of a 30-acre site behind the Lanier-Carter Mill site. The city will be receiving just under $380,000 for the land. This is money that can be put back into the development of the park.

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“We’ll use the funds to cut in a road and to do some other needed work in the park,” Valley Mayor Leonard Riley said.

Prior to putting the matter to a vote, a public hearing was held to discuss it. This was required by state law since the proposed sale price was below the fair market value of the land. The land is valued at $15,000 per acre. Scannell Properties offered $12,500 an acre.

Riley said that this was a good deal for the city when considering that Valley paid some $6,700 per acre when it purchased the site several years ago and has since made money from timber sales on the land.  Thus far, the city has brought in more than $125,000 from timber sales from the four parcels of land purchased several years ago from WestPoint Home entities.

“This is the first sale of land in the industrial park, and we want to be above board with it,” said Chambers County Development Authority Executive Director Valerie Gray, expressing support for the public hearing. “Project Sunrise and Project Scramble are tied to them with this project. It will create 55 new jobs.”

Riley said that Scannell is a first-class company that does business all over the world.

“We’ve been working with them since September 2016,” he said.

Riley introduced company representative Dan Salzer to the council. Salzer flew in from Minnesota to speak about the project.

“We do development work for Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies,” he said. “We have done more than 120 FedEx builds all over the U.S., and we’ve done several GE builds in Alabama. We’re getting close to breaking ground on this project. We look forward to working with you. We just hope we don’t bring that Minnesota weather with us.”

That last comment generated some laughter and statements to the effect that “we’ve already had some of that.”

“We look forward to working with you,” Riley told Salzer.

The 30 acres being purchased by Scannell are located off the five-lane access road behind Lanier-Carter. The presence of that road, plus water, natural gas and power lines on the site, makes Valley Industrial Park a prime location for development. The city owns approximately 800 acres just off the interstate. There aren’t many available sites on the I-85 corridor between Montgomery and Atlanta with that much land.

Riley said the 30-acre site being purchased is at the far end of Valley Industrial Boulevard.

The project will be developed in two phases.

The first part is for the property to be purchased by Scannell with the second phase being the construction of a distribution center.

An announcement on that will be made at a later date. Members of the council were upbeat about the property sale, especially the news about more new jobs coming to the local area.

Chambers County has been on a roll lately with Norbord restarting production this past November. That’s more than 130 new jobs that weren’t there before and more business for local logging companies. The December announcement by John Soules Foods means more than 200 jobs are on the way over the next couple of years and as many as 500 over the next five years.

There’s also an expansion under way at the West Rock plant in the Huguley Industrial Park. That will mean some more jobs for the local economy as well.

A goal of the CCDA is to bring better paying jobs to the community. Jobs being created by companies like Norbord and West Rock will accomplish that. John Soules Foods pays well, too.

Headquartered in Tyler, Texas, John Soules Foods will be locating in a 266,000-square-foot building off Towel Avenue in Valley. Starting in March, the company will begin making some $70 million in plant improvements. John Soules Foods could be in production by the third quarter of 2019.

“Things are going well for us right now,” Riley said at Monday’s meeting. “This is our second big announcement in 30 days.”