The Calhoun County Economic Development Council is proud to unveil our newest industrial park constructed to bring new jobs to Oxford and Calhoun County. Designated an Alabama AdvantageSite by EDPA, the 130-acre park sits in between Interstate 20 and U.S. 78 on John Wills Ave. Engineering designs were first proposed and reviewed in 2016 and ground was broken in early 2017. The plans for the sign and entrance to the park were designed with the entrance to Oxford’s Choccolocco Park in mind. A ribbon cutting was held at Oxford West late in 2018 where the crowd on hand heard from Calhoun County Economic Development Council’s Board Chairman and Executive Director, the Mayor of Oxford, and representatives from EDPA and the Alabama Department of Commerce.
Oxford West is one of only 59 AdvantageSites throughout the state, as well as the second AdvantageSite the EDC has developed in Calhoun County. Managed by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, the AdvantageSite program requires a teamwork approach between the private sector and state and local governments geared toward having prepared product and materials ready for industrial prospects. The program documents all aspects of the site, from geotechnical and environmental conditions to infrastructure and accessibility. Since its inception in 2008, 33 projects have located on AdvantageSites across the state, investing more than $1.4 billion and creating over 6,000 new jobs. Oxford Mayor Alton Craft said that he expects the certification will work for Oxford, too. “Back 30 years ago when Mayor (Leon) Smith and I started together, you could bring developers out and show them pastures and trees and they would say, ‘I see your vision,’” Craft explained, “but they don’t see it anymore.”
Ernie Cowart, Vice President of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, explains that companies are allowing less time for site selection and project construction. “They demand more information up front, and if your site lacks that, it can knock you out of consideration. They’re demanding a lot more information. This makes sure that information has already been documented and is readily available.”

Mayor Craft spoke highly of the partnership between the EDC and the City of Oxford, thanking the EDC for their commitment to build Oxford West. “Anytime you can get an industrial site like this and have the ability to recruit, it puts us up one more on everybody else,” Craft said. Leaders are excited about the site’s ability to draw industry, resulting in the creation of new job opportunities for our residents.

“We’re excited to make it a world-class industrial park,” Don Hopper, Executive Director of the Calhoun County EDC said. A major selling point is its location between Birmingham and Atlanta. “It’s those kinds of operations that need to be close to those markets that tend to look in this area,” Hopper explains. “Obviously the automotive industry, as well as the aerospace industry, is large here in the state and in Calhoun County.” The EDC is working closely with the City of Oxford, the Alabama Department of Commerce, EDPA, Alabama Power and Spire (formerly Alagasco) to market Oxford West. It takes cooperation and good working relationships with everyone involved. “The Alabama Department of Commerce’s job is to sell Alabama, and our job is to sell Calhoun County,” said Hopper.

Manufacturing Tours

CALHOUN COUNTY, Ala. — When students in Calhoun County get their high school diploma, some go off to college, but most find jobs elsewhere.
Local companies and educators are working together to combat brain drain by educating students on well-paying jobs available in the area.
The Calhoun County Economic Development Council hosts tours bringing together school administrators, principals, and teachers with local manufacturing companies.
“[Students] think ‘Well I’ve got to go to Atlanta or Birmingham to really get a job.” Kevin Lockridge, Principal at the Calhoun County Career Academy said. ” We have a lot of those jobs right here.”
Administrators are already figuring out how to pass the information on to students.
“We’re going to strategize and possibly brainstorm some ways since we’ve talked to industry, how we can help better prepare our students based on the needs of the industries,” Joicelyn Armbrester, Assistant Principal at Oxford Middle School said.
The EDC has facilitated trips to places like Bridgewater Interiors, Associated Metalcast, Doncasters Southern Tool, and Instrumentation Products Division, among others. The EDC has plans to bring students along for the tours in the future.

Industries lend a hand to tornado ravaged Jacksonville State University

On the evening of March 19, the city of Jacksonville, AL and the campus of Jacksonville State University, located in Calhoun County, was ravaged by an F3 Tornado. Beginning immediately that night, the EDC made contact with our industrial partners in Jacksonville to ensure the safety of their families and their employees. The day after, fellow Calhoun County industries began to contact the EDC about how they could contribute to the relief efforts for our neighbors.
One of the overwhelming unmet needs relayed by Calhoun County EMA for many days to come would be safety glasses. Fortunately this happened to be an easy niche that belonged to our industries. Many gave every pair they had on hand and immediately ordered more. They also gave in surplus many other high demand items, financial contributions, labor, time, and meals, therefore displaying what it means to love their neighbor. We are so proud to represent the industries in Calhoun County because of the unwavering strength found in the people of this community. We want to thank each industrial partner that has and will continue to give back to the relief efforts taking place in Jacksonville so far-
Bridgewater Interiors, Valley Machine, BR Williams, Associated Metalcast, Gnutti Carlo, Tyler Union, Garcy Manufacturing, Parker Hannifin, General Dynamics OTS, National Gypsum, M&H Valve, New Flyer, Auto Custom Carpets, API Packaging Solutions, General Dynamics Land Systems, and Stryker Trailer.

Calhoun county trailer maker breaks ground on expansion

JACKSONVILLE — A local trailer manufacturer broke ground Tuesday on an expansion that should lead to 25 new jobs next year.
Company and elected officials stood in a wet and muddy construction site to participate in the ceremonial groundbreaking at Stryker Trailer, formerly Baggett’s Trailer Connection, on Alabama 21 north of Jacksonville. The expansion is needed to meet growing demand, company officials say.
Construction on the $250,000 project is set to start early next year and finish in March. The plan is to build a 9,600 square-foot building addition and a 480 square-foot shed.
The company will hire the 25 new employees over the coming months. Stryker currently has 36 workers.
The new building will house six painting stalls, while three current paint rooms will be converted into new welding stations for trailers. Since 1996, the company has manufactured all-purpose trailers and haulers.
Billy Prickett, CEO of Stryker, said the plan is to at least double the company’s business over the next five years.
“The product is very good … it’s just a matter of getting it out faster,” Prickett said.
The company currently produces around 75 trailers a week. The goal after the expansion is to produce 150 trailers a week, Prickett said.
Planning for the expansion began months ago after Montgomery investment firm Wiregrass Equity Partners took interest in the company. The firm bought majority control of the company from its founder, Jake Baggett, in October.

“Jake had been a one-man show for years, but everything had just gotten to the size that he needed some help to make it bigger,” Prickett said.
Darin Phillips, one of the partners of Wiregrass, said his company was already looking ahead to even tripling the Stryker’s business. The company also plans to expand its sales team and improve branding and advertising to increase its dealer base.
“The demand is already there to double the business … but it looks like we can triple the business in five years,” Phillips said.
Jamie Ethredge, chairman of the Jacksonville Industrial Development Board, who attended the groundbreaking, said teamwork between the city of Jacksonville and the Calhoun County Economic Development Council helped make the expansion a reality. Last month, with guidance from the Economic Development Council, the Jacksonville City Council approved an abatement for sales taxes on the manufacturing materials and equipment Stryker plans to buy for the expansion.
“None of this would happen without cooperation,” Ethredge said.

Oxford City Schools Tour Manufacturing Facilities

Guidance counselors from Oxford City Schools toured four local industries Thursday in order to learn more about career opportunities for their students. The counselors started their morning with a welcome breakfast and an overview of the day provided by Calhoun County Economic Development Council’s Executive Director Don Hopper and Director of Business Development Lorie Denton, as well as East AlabamaWorks Director Lisa Morales. After touring Bridgewater Interiors, New Flyer, General Dynamics-Ordinance and Tactical Systems, and Aerospace Coatings, the group’s last tour location was the Economic Development Council’s new Oxford West Industrial Park. A wrap up lunch was held in the Oxford High School Media Center’s Connection. Currently, five more tours for local educators are scheduled over the next few weeks. Special thank you to Oxford City Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Goodwin for recognizing the importance of these tours, and Oxford High School Principal Mr. Heath Harmon for working to allow the Calhoun County Economic Development Council to utilize the OHS campus for breakfast and lunch.
These tours are a cooperative effort between the Calhoun County Economic Development Council, East Alabamaworks, and the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce.

Calhoun County’s Public School Leaders Tour Local Industries

A partnership between the Calhoun County Economic Development Council (EDC), The Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce, and East AlabamaWorks allowed area superintendents, principals, and counselors to go on a variety of industrial tours Monday. Approximately 20 area educators toured Calhoun County’s Bridgewater Interiors, New Flyer, Aerospace Coatings, Industry Products, Kobay, and General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems. The goal of this project is to ultimately get area teachers into these industries to learn about job opportunities for their students.
Rod Nowlin, Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce President and Division Customer Service Manager
for the Alabama Power Company opened the day thanking everyone for their commitment to raise awareness about the varying types of jobs in our manufacturing industries. Over breakfast at the Oxford Civic Center, ALSDE Senior Director for Workforce Development Josh Laney spoke to the group about the importance of being aware of the product they produce for local jobs in their manufacturing facilities. “In a time of great economic growth, the only limiting factor on Alabama’s continued prosperity is the availability of a trained and trainable workforce. As educators, we must recognize the opportunity to prepare our students for the high-quality careers available to them. In order to do that, we have to learn about those careers directly. We can’t teach what we don’t know,” stated Laney. Most educators spend their entire lives in a classroom, so it’s imperative there are opportunities to see what is available in their own backyard.

Executive Director of the Calhoun County EDC Don Hopper stressed how fortunate our community is to have such a broad industrial base in Calhoun County. “Manufacturing continues to be a large portion of our local workforce. Our industries are always happy to showcase their operations,” said Hopper. “The EDC hired Lorie Denton about a year ago to focus on our existing industries. Almost every one of those industries tell her they need people. We want to make sure we are filling our industries with your students. In order for that to work effectively, you have to know what those jobs are, as well as what skills and training are required for those jobs,” he said.

The educators split into 3 groups, touring two industries each. East AlabamaWorks provided lunch where the group collectively came together to share their experiences. April Livingston is a counselor for Oxford Elementary School and said she realized after today that the industries weren’t “dark, dirty and dangerous,” as Laney mentioned earlier is a stereotype industries are fighting. “It is so exciting to see all the innovative opportunities we have for our students right here in our county.”

Dr. Charles Gregory, Principal of Anniston High School, toured General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems and Industry Products today. “There are some amazing job opportunities available for the students of Calhoun County, and I intend to make sure they are aware of what’s available in our own backyard,” he said. More tours for various industries are already in the works for teachers in the Anniston City, Oxford City, Piedmont City, Jacksonville City, and Calhoun County School Systems.

Kevin Lockeridge is the Director of the Calhoun County Career Academy who toured Kobay and New Flyer. “It is very encouraging for me to see career tech education and workforce needs being pushed to the forefront of people’s minds. Today’s tours helped everyone to see how vital it is for us in education to expose our students to all the opportunities available to them. We want all of our students to leave us with the 3 E’s (enrolled, employed, and/or enlisted),” he said.
John Bryant, an Oxford High School and Auburn University graduate is now the General Manager for Aerospace Coatings, a FAA certified repair station located in Oxford, AL. His facility hosted a group of educators today. “Aerospace Coatings is deeply committed to developing skilled technicians through industrial experience and continuing education,” says Bryant. “Partnering with our local educational institutions helps us both to identify the demand of today’s workforce while providing competitive opportunities in the area’s local job market.”

Ashley Bunn is a counselor for Oxford City Schools and told the group she would love to have representatives from the industries come and talk to their classes. While touring today she met Debra Whittaker, an engineer at Aerospace Coatings. Whittaker told Bunn she’d be happy to come speak to students about what it’s really like being an engineer. Lorie Denton told the educators over lunch that industries in Calhoun County are very willing to do whatever they need to educate the community about who they are, what they do, and what job opportunities they have for local students.

The next round of industry tours is expected to take place in the fall for local educators.

Oxford Kronospan Announces Project Expansion Increase of $101 Million

The Calhoun County Economic Development Council (EDC) is pleased to announce an additional $101 million investment to Kronospan in Oxford, Alabama. Last week the Oxford City Council approved an amendment to a tax abatement officials granted in 2016 for Kronospan’s $362 million expansion that would create 160 new jobs. Kronospan returned for an amendment to that abatement as the investment has increased by $101 million and will add 150 additional jobs to their Oxford, Alabama headquarters.
This brings their Grow Bama project to a $463 million dollar investment, creating a total of 310 jobs for Calhoun County.
Tim Pack, Chief Financial Officer for Kronospan, said since the company began operations here in 2008, their total investment is approximately $800 million. He explained Kronospan’s Oxford facility is the most vertical laminate flooring manufacturer in North America, performing all necessary processes at the Oxford, AL site, from preparation of wood chips to production of the final laminate floor product. Kronospan prides itself on a start to finish product.
Their laminate flooring can be found worldwide, yet also locally at home improvement chain stores Lowe’s and Home Depot.

About Kronospan
Kronospan is a leading manufacturer of wood-based panel products and related value-added products. The Company is privately-owned, with more than 40 manufacturing and distribution sites throughout the world. Kronospan is the top manufacturer globally of MDF, laminate flooring, particleboard and UF resins for wood-based panels; and is the top manufacturer in Europe of OSB.
In 2008, Kronospan started up operations at its Oxford, AL, facility, where it now manufactures MDF, HDF, laminate flooring, and resins. Notwithstanding very difficult market conditions in the housing industry, Kronospan has maintained its level of employment at the Oxford facility since start-up. Upon completion of the expansion project, Kronospan’s site will represent the largest private capital investment in the City of Oxford and Calhoun County and will be one of the largest employers in the area.
For more information about Kronospan, visit www.kronospan-worldwide.com and for more information about Kronospan’s products, services and business concepts, visit www.kronospan-express.com and www.krono-original.com.

The Oxford City Council recently approved a tax abatement for local industry Associated MetalCast, Inc.

The Oxford City Council recently approved a tax abatement for local industry Associated MetalCast, Inc. that will allow an expansion and create 18 new jobs. President of the company Ron Douglas told the council this is their fifth expansion

Associated MetalCast, Inc. manages and performs inventory of various metal products for other companies and also creates finished machine components for customers.
We’re glad to see businesses choosing to locate and expand in our area, and we hope to see local economies benefit from their presence here.

Incorporated in 1998, Associated MetalCast, Inc. specializes in providing our customers with the highest quality ferrous and non-ferrous castings, precision machining, and assembly services. Currently situated on approximately seven acres in Oxford, Alabama, we are conveniently located just off Interstate 20 between Atlanta and Birmingham. Our facilities encompass over 71,000 square feet of climate controlled, manufacturing and warehouse space. We maintain a clean and well organized work environment that allows us to handle projects efficiently.

We offer a variety of custom machining services utilizing state of the art equipment. in our ISO 9001:2008 certified facility

With a fully equipped and staffed metrology and metallurgical lab on-site, AMI has the ability to ensure dimensional integrity throughout the process as well as the ability to verify that all material meets or exceeds ASTM specifications.

Local EDC Staff Members Graduate University of Alabama Economic Development Academy Honors Program

Calhoun County Economic Development Council Director of Research & Special Projects Lucas Gockel and Director of Business Development Lorie Denton recently completed The University of Alabama Economic Development Academy’s Applied Economic Development Honors program. They are 2 of 19 economic development professionals from across the state that will receive a graduation certificate during the upcoming Economic Development Association of Alabama summer conference. Over a period of 8 months and divided into 3 sessions, this invitation only program focused on areas of study almost every local economic development organization faces including growing existing industry, recruiting new jobs, growing leadership skills, negotiation strategies, building workforce pipelines, and working with elected officials. Participants also were able to build strong working relationships across the state with their economic development counterparts.
The Honors program is a partnership between The University of Alabama Economic Development Academy and the Economic Development Association of Alabama to help prepare Alabama’s next generation of practitioners. The goal of the class is to develop well-prepared, professional economic developers through a hands-on learning process that teaches skills and knowledge necessary to handle the challenges of multi-dimensional economic development.

Most American Made Cars – 2017

Honda Manufacturing of Alabama in Lincoln, AL has earned the distinction of producing not one, not two, but three of the most American made cars for 2017. The Honda Ridgeline, Odyssey, and Pilot all make the top 10 most American made cars for 2017 (#4, #9, and #10, respectively). Honda Manufacturing of Alabama is the only facility in the US to produce so many top 10 American made vehicles. We are proud of Honda Manufacturing of Alabama as well as all their local suppliers who have chosen to call our area home.