Chambers County ranked among top counties in state

Published 9:04 am Wednesday, May 2, 2018

VALLEY — Chambers County ranked among the top five counties in Alabama in terms of 2017 job creation, and more new jobs are on the way in the form of a 375,000-square-foot distribution center being built on a 30-acre site in the new Valley Industrial Park.

With a population of only 34,000 people, Chambers County was ranked behind four much more populous counties – Jefferson, Madison, Montgomery and Mobile – in the newly released survey.

A big part of Chambers County’s being rated that high was the creation of 500 new jobs in the John Soules Foods plant on Towel Avenue in Valley. It will take some time for those jobs to be available, but there is a signed contract for the Tyler, Texas-based company to locate its third production facility in a 266,000-square-foot building on Valley’s south side.

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More that 60 projects were announced statewide in 2017. This represents more than 7,000 jobs coming to the state and an estimated $1.7 billion in capital investment.

According to the Alabama Department of Commerce, the John Soules Foods commitment to Chambers County involves an investment of around $110 million in Chambers County. There are six other ongoing projects in the county that involve expansions. There’s more than $20 million involved in this.

At 11 a.m. this morning, a groundbreaking was set to take place behind the Lanier-Carter Mill site for a new distribution center. This represents a major commitment to the local area on the part of West Rock. A 375,000-square-foot building will be constructed on a 30-acre site by Scannell Properties. It will be the first new construction in the new Valley Industrial Park. This is just the beginning. Much more construction inside the 800-acre park is likely to take place in the coming years.

Located in the Huguley Industrial Park, West Rock has grown by leaps and bounds since the plant opened under the Mead name in 1996. There were but 20 employees at the start up. The company has gone through some name changes, first to MeadWesVaco and now West Rock, and has weathered some difficult times to now have a work force that’s more than 300 strong with employment likely to grow from that.

“It’s our first project in our industrial park, and we are really excited about it,” said Valley Mayor Leonard Riley. “West Rock is a good company to have here in our area. They have good-paying jobs and support community activities. They have over 300 people working at their plant in the Huguley Industrial Park. We are well pleased they will have people working at a distribution center in Valley.”

The mayor added that he is excited about the future of the industrial park.

“We have come very close on some other projects,” he said. “We have been in the top two for some really good projects that went elsewhere. It’s a prime location on I-85 and it’s rare to have the kind of land available that we have in our industrial park.”