Tuesday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) attended a celebration for the 1,100 acre Etowah County megasite between Attalla and Steele.
Ivey said on Twitter that she was, “Excited to be in Etowah Co. to celebrate Little Canoe Creek Industrial Park being an 1,100 acre Advantage Megasite! The work that has gone into receiving this designation signals to every company looking to expand their operations, that we’re ready for them right here in Alabama.”
Ivey praised the Etowah County Commissioners for the foresight to prepare the site to land a major industrial project and promised to mention the site to the heads of the major aviation companies, when she is at the Farnborough Air Show in Great Britain.
The massive tract of land was recently awarded Advantage site certification.
Economic Developer Nicole Jones explained, “Advantage Site status allows Etowah County to be marketed around the world. Located adjacent to I-59 with access to US Highway 11 and Norfolk Southern Railway, the Advantage Site is the largest tract of property available for Industrial development in northeast Alabama. The property is one hundred percent county-owned, with access to Alabama Power transmission lines, high pressure gas lines, fiber (high-speed internet), and has already completed environmental, endangered species, and wetland analyses.”
Nicole Jones stated, “Congratulations to the Etowah County delegation on this achievement. We are looking forward to what the future holds for Etowah County and the state of Alabama when a company chooses this site for a project.”
Etowah County Commissioner Tim Choate said that he used to work for the Etowah County Steelworkers Credit Union. Thousands of workers at Republic Steel once worked in Etowah County. They made good money and had good benefits. When the company closed its operations, all of those jobs were lost and many of those workers had to find jobs in other communities. Some have even left Etowah County with their families. The commission wanted to be in position to land a major industrial project so they began buying tracts of land in 2008 for what would become the Etowah County megasite. A megasite has over 1000 acres. The only other certified megasite in Alabama is in Baldwin County.
The Little Canoe Creek Industrial Park has over 1100 acres located adjacent to I-59 with access to US Hwy 11. Norfolk Southern Railway runs through the property. The Etowah County Commission is in the process of trying to acquire an additional 280 acres. The site is only 8.5 miles from the Northeast Alabama Regional Airport via Airport Road, Steele Station Road, Pleasant Valley Road, and then Wesson Lake Road. and is only 54 miles to the Birmingham International Airport via Interstate 59. The site also adjoins St. Clair County which has seen impressive growth over the last thirty years.
The site is one of only 7 industrial development sites in Alabama with railroad access.
Commissioner Choate said that they have already contacted Norfolk Southern Railway and they would be happy to put in a railroad spur for the site.
The environmental; endangered species; and cultural and wetland analysis have all already been completed, as well as water and sewer studies.
State Senator Phil Williams (R-Rainbow City) blasted the critics of the project which have claimed the site was wetlands. Williams said that they have been proven wrong and will be proven wrong again when there is an announcement for the site.
The Alabama Political Reporter asked exactly how the megasite would access the interstate. Currently the southern end of the property facing I-59 is accessed through Wesson Lake Road for over two miles before coming out on Pleasant Valley Road which has a bridge over I-59; but not access. Wesson Lake Road is not wide or in satisfactory condition to handle a steady flow of large trucks in numbers.
Commissioner Choate told APR that they would build an I-59 exit once the site has landed a major industrial facility.
An access road is being constructed on the property to access the north side of the property from U.S. highway 11.
The massive forested site is in the process of being cleared for future development.