By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The national and international economic numbers increasingly appear like a second recession is possible. Governor Robert Bentley’s economic development team however keeps working hard to grow and expand employment in Alabama. On Thursday, Gov. Bentley announced that Brown-Forman was expanding for the second time bringing 200 new jobs to North Alabama.
At a news conference with officials from Brown-Forman Corporation Gov. Bentley said, “I am appreciative of the new jobs that Brown-Forman continues to bring to Alabama. We are moving forward in our commitment to put Alabama back to work. We are glad that Alabama has the type of business climate and workforce that will keep companies in expansion mode.”
Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield was on a business mission overseas, but he told participants of the news conference that he is proud of the role that his agency played in bringing the company to Alabama. Secretary Canfield said, ““We work diligently to show companies throughout the world what makes our business climate healthy in Alabama and why companies continue to grow here. We wish Brown-Forman the success so many companies are finding here in our state.” He credited Commerce Senior Project Manager Gary Faulkner for his role in working with the Brown-Forman company on the project.
Brown-Forman makes Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. The company will open the new Jack Daniel Cooperage on a site in Lawrence County near Decatur to produce new oak barrels which are used in the process of making the popular alcoholic beverage. “Cooperage” simply means the art of barrel making. In the days before steel and plastic drums, master cooper made barrels for a multitude of different uses out of wood and metal rings. Jack Daniels is aged in the classic oak barrels because changing the process would also change the taste of the product.
The Executive Vice President and chief production officer for Brown-Forman Jill Jones said, “With the continued long-term growth of the Jack Daniel’s Family of brands, we are expanding to meet growing production demand.”
The Executive Director of the Lawrence County Industrial Development Board, Toney Stockton, said, “We’re very pleased to have a company with such a storied tradition as Brown-Forman to be our anchor industry in the Mallard Fox West Industrial Complex. With a forecast of 200 jobs when fully operational, the economic outlook of Lawrence County just got brighter.”
The process of making the expansion fully operational will take an estimated twelve months. Brown –Cooper is opening a sawmill in Stevenson, AL this month that is associated with the barrel plant. Brown-Forman Corporation is the only alcoholic beverage spirits company in the world that makes its own new white oak barrels. Their other cooperage is in Louisville, Kentucky.
Brown-Forman has produced many products such as Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Southern Comfort for 142 years. Brown-Forman’s brands have a workforce of 4,000 employees and their products are sold in an estimated 135 countries worldwide.
Interestingly, when Tennessee imposed its own statewide alcohol prohibition in 1920, Lem Motlow (the nephew of founder Jack Daniels), moved the distillery to Birmingham, but the quality of the product was never acceptable enough to the demanding Mr. Motlow to be sold to the public and the whole project was shut down when the federal government imposed its own alcohol prohibition.
To read Gov. Bentley’s press release in its entirety: