City of Valley certified as ideal site for food and beverage industry companies to locate

Published 8:53 am Thursday, September 29, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

VALLEY — Jay Garner of Garner Economics and Chris Ross of CDG Engineers & Associates, Inc. were at Valley City Council’s Monday meeting to inform the council that the city had been certified as an ideal site for companies in the food and beverage industry to locate.

Of the 1,750 acres of land the city has purchased in recent years, approximately 700 acres have this certification.

Garner is the president, CEO and founder of Garner Economics LLC, an economic development and site location consulting firm headquartered in Atlanta.

Email newsletter signup

Garner Economics and CDG Engineers have partnered to create one of the most extensive certification initiatives in the development arena for the food and beverage industry. Their goal is to help communities effectively prepare for food and beverage projects.

In a December 2020 interview in Expansion Solutions magazine, Garner said that Covid-19 had been “the mother of all disrupters,” impacting all economic sectors. He cited the food and beverage industry being impacted both positively and negatively. Grocery retailers saw some of their highest profits ever.

Garner maintains that the food and beverage sector has been undergoing a shift, with consumers increasingly choosing healthy, fresh, organic, local and ready-to-eat alternatives over traditional products that are mass produced. “Food processing does require ample water for its processes, and of course, beverage processing will need even more as it often becomes part of the finished product,” he writes.

He also cites the importance of four-lane roads. “An Interstate location will trump a non-Interstate location,” he adds. “Four-lane access roads will always trump two-lane roads. Gas and diesel are big components of energy costs, and accessibility directly impacts operating costs.”

Garner lists the Chambers County Development Authority (CCDA) as one of the clients he has done studies for. Several years ago, he wrote a comprehensive study of the area’s strengths and weaknesses. He then cited the food and beverage industry as a source of good prospects to recruit to the local area. One of them, John Soules Foods, has been a major success story for the CCDA, the City of Valley and Chambers County. They have invested over $300 million in the local economy in a short period of time. With two lines in production, they have already topped their early goals, and with three more lines on the way, employment in the local plant is expected to top 500 people.

Mayor Leonard Riley said that certification in the food and beverage industry is excellent news. 

“What it means is that when a prospect in this industry calls the state, they give them a list of certified sites in Alabama,” he said. “We are already an AdvantagedSite.”

The AdvantagedSite program was created in 2008 to position communities throughout the state for economic growth. With the closing of the textile industry coming in late 2008 or early 2009, local unemployment surged to 22 percent in February 2009. Kia auto suppliers coming this way, the reopening of Norbord and Knauf, and strong growth at WestRock leading to hiring local people, the county’s unemployment rate is now very low.