By Barnett Wright
The Birmingham Times
The Jefferson County Economic & Industrial Development Authority (JCEIDA) currently has 4,878 employees working in its two industrial parks and a direct impact on the county of $14.5 million per year, according to findings by the Alabama SBDC Network at the University of Alabama’s Research and Economic Development Department.
Jefferson Metropolitan Park at Lakeshore consists of 337 acres and lies within the city of Birmingham, and Jefferson Metropolitan Park at McCalla consists of 739 acres in the county.
“Those jobs created in those parks … are going to be a thing of the future,” said Heather Wright, Regional Manager for Alabama SBDC Network University of Alabama, who researched and developed the JCEIDA’s Economic Impact Study.
In addition to the economic impact of capital expenditures, jobs, payroll, property tax, sales tax and motor vehicle expenditures there is the “induce job effect,” she said. “When you have a job created in industry, they also hire an accountant or attorneys, or they shop at grocery stores and there are things they do within our community that makes a greater impact, because they spend their money there … and create jobs in the grocery stores and the retail stores. Because of their spending that’s how more jobs are created.”
Othell Phillips, executive director of JCEIDA, who began his term Nov. 1 after the retirement of Ted vonCannon, who served as the JCEIDA executive director for over 10 years, said the number of employees will continue to grow. He pointed out that Prestige Development has built two spec buildings with successful results in the past year. One Lear (a Mercedes supplier) has hired close to 400 employees with a lease for Building Two in negotiations.
There are currently several projects underway at Jeff Met McCalla including Lear, Gulf States Distributing and Smuckers, whose capital investment of $1.1 billion is the largest in the history of Jefferson County. Already, the projected number of jobs at Smuckers, expected to open by 2025, has increased to 800 from 750.
According to the report, the success and retention of the JCEIDA parks have a substantial impact on the economy of Jefferson County and the State of Alabama.
For example, the direct impact on Jefferson County is $14,537,284 per year and for the state of Alabama $23,064,476 per year, according to the study.
“Our goal is to promote Jefferson County as the premier location for manufacturing and industry, attract investment from leading global companies, retain and grow existing companies, develop, train and recruit talent, advocate for a competitive business climate and primarily provide quality sites for economic development within our industrial parks,” said Phillips. “Without the vision and support of the Jefferson County Commission and our Board we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish the success that has been achieved at JCEIDA.”
According to the report, for every dollar spent by JCEIDA, county receives $13.22 in direct impact and the state receives $20.98.
The report also said the industrial parks have generated a total of approximately $4.5 billion of outside capital investment in today’s dollars since its inception in 1999.