Business Alabama has a good read on Chambers County

Published 6:45 pm Thursday, December 13, 2018

There’s an interesting article about our local area in the latest issue of Business Alabama magazine. It’s always helpful to get positive publicity, and we did in a spotlight feature written by Lori Chandler Pruitt. Chambers and Tallapoosa counties were the focus of the story. It was from the viewpoint of a visitor looking at what stood out about the two counties.

Both counties are blessed with natural resources like Lake Martin and West Point Lake. Both are in a period of transition, building back from the loss of the textile industry with auto supplier jobs playing a leading role. Two automotive suppliers in Dadeville, for example, have brought more than 1,000 new jobs to the county seat of Tallapoosa County in recent years. There’s 720 employees at SJA and 475 at Kwangsung America. Auto suppliers SL Alabama and C&J Tech have brought close to 950 jobs to Alexander City.

In Chambers County, an industrial park has brought more than 1,200 jobs just off Exit 70 on I-85. A little more than 10 years ago, the site was mostly pine thickets and sage fields. Chambers County is blessed to have companies like Knauf, Norbord and WestRock. It’s so good to have Knauf and Norbord back in production after being closed for several years. WestRock is an amazing success story. The about 25 employees in 1996. They now have 380 and are building a first-class distribution center in Valley Industrial Park.

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The announcement that John Soules Foods was going to locate in Valley was a really nice Christmas present for our community in 2017. The Tyler, Texas-based company has purchased a former WestPoint Stevens distribution center off Towel Avenue and will be making an estimated $40 million investment in the 266,000-square-foot building. More than 200 people will be working there when the plant goes into production and more than 500 when two more production lines are added over the next couple of years.

Chambers and Tallapoosa are fortunate to be home to community colleges, Central Alabama in Alexander City and Southern Union in Valley. Both offer dual enrollment, giving today’s high school student a jump start on getting a college education. Each one has career technical programs, adult education, workforce training and academic transfer to four-year colleges.

Health care is also a major economic driver in the two counties. Russell Medical Center in Alexander City has a $136 million impact in Tallapoosa County with more than 1,200 jobs. Lake Martin Community Hospital in Dadeville is a 46-bed facility with 200 employees.

EAMC-Lanier in Valley is among the largest employers in Chambers County, providing $425 million in revenue.

As movers and shakers in the local community, Business Alabama lists Ashley Crane and Carrie Royster of the Greater Valley Area Chamber of Commerce, Todd Shackett, the new president of SUSCC, Jonathan Herston of the Chambers County Circle of Care Center for Families, Bruce Emfinger of AuburnBank, Chambers County School Resource Officer Sandra Crim, and Chris Busby of the Chambers County Development Authority staff.

Listed as interesting places to visit in Chambers County are Chambers County Lake, the Chattahoochee River, West Point Lake, the Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail, the Chambers County Museum and the Joe Louis (Barrow) statue, both in LaFayette, Fort Tyler, the Christmas Merry-G0-Round, Point University’s Golf Club and Event Center, boat landings in Shawmut, Langdale and River View, the CV Railway Trail, Fort Cusseta, the West Point Dam Scenic Bike Trail, Bradshaw-Chambers County Library and Cobb Memorial Archives, the Chambers County Agricultural Arena in LaFayette and the historic Langdale Theater in Valley.