By Barnett Wright
The Birmingham Times
Jefferson County is poised to close out a banner year for economic development with more than $400 million in announced projects, said County Commissioner David Carrington, chair of the finance, information technology and business development committee.
The positive trends that began several years ago continued in 2016, Carrington said. “Once all the numbers are tallied, I would not be surprised if Jefferson County ended the year with more than $400 million in announced projects,” he said.
The largest announced project was code named “Sunrise,” a vehicle-related company that purchased 1 million square feet of empty manufacturing space on Highway 79, he said.
“Even though, for competitive reasons, I am not authorized to release the company’s name at this time, the company projects investing $120 million and hiring 746 employees over the next few years,” he said.
Other notable projects were the opening of Oxford Pharmaceuticals, Seneca’s re-opening of the Oak Grove coal mine, the new ServisFirst corporate headquarters project, and the expansions of Kamtek and Gestamp, the commissioner said.
Area leaders need to continue telling “our story” both nationally and internationally, Carrington said. “We need to continue focusing on attracting, developing and retaining a 21st century workforce.”
That story includes regional strengths such as geographic location, a robust transportation network, available workforce, post high school training programs, low operating costs, and performance-based incentive packages, he said.
“In addition,” Carrington said, “visiting site consultants and business executives are amazed with our quality of life, frequently mentioning the breadth and depth of our local restaurant scene.”
As for 2017, that year could surpass 2016, the commissioner said. “We are already a finalist on several major projects each with the potential to materially impact our business landscape. We continue to emphasize UAB, Southern Research and Innovation Depot in positioning the county for growth in the science and technology sectors,” he said.