By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Friday, January 24th Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) announced that Alabama’s official unemployment rate has dropped to just 6.1%.
Gov. Bentley said in a written statement, “Alabama’s Unemployment rate is 6.1%, marking a five-year low. There are 59,400 more jobs today in Alabama than there were in January of 2011, with the greatest job growth coming from the manufacturing sector. There are over 40,000 new, future jobs coming to Alabama. We’re announcing new, well-paying jobs in six locations across the state this month alone. The University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research just last week released its economic forecast which predicts greater growth and an estimated 25,000 jobs to be added in 2014. This is all great news for Alabamians who need a well-paying job, but I won’t be satisfied until every person who wants a job can get a job in this state.”
Gov. Bentley was in Lanett on Friday with Alabama Secretary of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield (R) and other dignitaries at a ceremony to mark the re-opening of Knauf Insulation’s mothballed Chambers County plant.
Knauf CEO Mark Andrews said, “At every single stage of this, we really felt we were wanted in Alabama. We felt we were welcome, which was very important to our decision-making process.”
The 800,000-square-foot plant in Chambers County employs 120 people and is the largest insulation factory in the Southeast.
Chairman Andrews said, “We wouldn’t be opening there if it weren’t the right place to be,” Andrews said. “We wouldn’t be in Alabama if we thought we couldn’t succeed here. It was really the best choice for us.”
Commerce Secretary Canfield said, “Alabama will continue to provide support to companies like Knauf and help them achieve success because it benefits both sides.”
Knauf Insulation’s Chambers County plant recycles 835,000 glass bottles each day, turning those bottles – 300 million a year – into glass strands that become energy-saving insulation used in buildings. The factory closed in June 2011 after the collapse of the residential construction market which triggered the Great Recession.
The Executive Director of the Chambers County Development Authority, Valerie Gray said, “Knauf’s decision to re-open the Lanett facility is a tremendous win for our area and for the State of Alabama on so many levels. Out of all the other areas they could locate or other facilities they could update, they chose us.”
Director Gray said, “I think this decision speaks volumes of the relationships that we as a county and state have built with the Knauf team, I’m proud to know, that when it comes to economic development and a conducive business environment, Knauf knows we can deliver.”
Knauf Insulation, part of the international Knauf family of companies, operates 40 plants around the globe, with $2 billion in annual sales. The company says the insulation produced at the Alabama plant saves 12 times as much energy per pound in its first year of use as it took to produce that insulation.
Also this week, Harbert Construction broke ground on a new $12 million aviation support facility in Enterprise for Brighthouse Aviation Properties that will produce 200 jobs.
Since being elected in 2010, Governor Robert Bentley has emphasized recruiting new jobs to the state of Alabama. During the 2010 election, Dr. Bentley vowed not to take any pay until the Alabama economy reached full employment (5.2%). The announcement that Airbus was building its first North American jetliner factory in Mobile was the biggest announcement; but that has been followed by expansion of automotive factories, new automotive parts suppliers, and other employers.
The announcement that Airbus was building its first North American jetliner factory in Mobile was the biggest announcement; but that has been followed by expansion of automotive factories, new automotive parts suppliers, and other employers.