Chambers County Development Authority releases annual report

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, March 2, 2022

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VALLEY — Ansley Emfinger, project manager for the Chambers County Development Authority (CCDA), reviewed the CCDA’s annual report at the Monday meeting of the Valley City Council. She said there was much good news to report for Chambers County for 2021, including good employment numbers, rising wages and the best Census for Chambers County in at least 40 years.

The county’s unemployment rate for December was 2.7 percent, a statistic that points to the availability of lots of local jobs. “It’s a great number to have,” Emfinger said. “Wages have been going up for the past 15 years. An estimated $1.3 billion in investments have been made in the local area over that span. At least 3.000 jobs have been created. It’s very exciting to see this.”

Emfinger added that sales tax numbers have been going up over that same period, especially in the City of Valley. “This is a testament to the growth we have been seeing and the leadership we have been getting from local officials,” Emfinger said. “The land acquisitions we have seen in recent years by the City of Valley is a good move for the future of our area. There’s no doubt Exit 77 off the Interstate is a future growth area for our area.”

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In the 2020 Census, Chambers County recorded its first ten-year population growth since 1980. Valley led the way, growing by more than 1,000 people from 2010 to 2020. It now has more than 10,500 people.

“One of our primary goals has been to recruit more jobs,” Emfinger said. “That’s been taking place, and we want it to continue. We now need to have a big push in residential activity. We are seeing signs of that, and that’s good. We are now focused on recruiting companies in the food and beverage industry. We need to continue adding to our workforce.”

Mayor Leonard Riley thanked Emfinger for the report. “Our revenues have been very good,” he said. “We are seeing a decrease in the gas tax because it’s costing so much to drive. We appreciate everything the CCDA is doing. This is a cooperative period. We don’t want to fight with Lanett, West Point or LaFayette. We need to work together to help the entire area. We want to bring in high-paying jobs.”

He cited the new John Soules Foods plant in Valley as an example of that. Since its start last September, a total of 382 people have been hired there. The vast majority of them live within 25 miles of the plant. The pay scale ranges from around $15 an hour for line workers and $40 an hour for skilled workers such as robot mechanics.

“They invested $180 million in our community to get the plant started,” Riley said. “I wish everyone could see whats going on there. I am hoping they will have tours at some point. They have two lines running, and they are processing 14,000 pounds of chicken every hour on each line. In a year-and-a-half they will have five lines running and will have more than 500 employees.”

Planning and Development Director Travis Carter reported that the Camellia Crossing subdivision is becoming a very busy work zone. “They are starting to put down rock,” he said. “We could see some street paving in the near future.”

Located off Combs Road on the city’s west side, Camellia Crossing is being developed by Holland Homes of Auburn, It will be done in phases, and there could be more than 300 smart homes in the subdivision at build out.

Commissioner Sam Bradford was at the meeting and mentioned the impact a good Census report has on a community. He and Commissioner Debra Riley were members of the county’s 2020 Census Committee. “Each county receives $1,600 per person per year from the federal government,” he said. “If you have a population gain of 500 people over the last Census that’s $800,000 more per year that will be coming your way from the federal government and $8 million over the next 10 years. A good Census count is very important for a county.”