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Etowah County receives funding to improve industrial mega-site

Silhouette of engineer and construction team working at site over blurred background sunset pastel for industry background with Light fair.

In December, the Renewal of Alabama Commission approved a grant application from the Etowah County Commission to further improve a thousand acre industrial mega-site.

The Etowah County Commission owns and is developing a thousand acre site on I-59 between Attalla and Steele. The Commission and the state hopes to lure a major employer or employers to the mega-site which has rail access through Norfolk Southern. Funding for the site improvement are being supplied by Norfolk Southern.

The $2.7 million project will include grading a portion of the over 1,000-acre property to create a pad-ready rail-served site sufficient to accommodate a large industry. Natural gas lines will be relocated near the edge of the property, and a new railroad crossing will be added to the industrial access road off U.S. Highway 11 the Alabama Department of Commerce announced.

Economic developer and site selector Dr. Nicole Jones told the Alabama Political Reporter, “The ability to list rail access in marketing materials is an asset because it helps attract large companies that transport freight as part of their day-to-day operations.”

Marilyn Lott is the economic development director for Etowah County.

Lott said that the improvements will enhance the site’s marketability by reducing a company’s construction timeline, saving time and money. “The mega-site has many location advantages for industrial recruitment and this project will improve upon its assets and greatly increase our overall competitiveness,” Lott said.

Assistant vice president of Industrial Development for Norfolk Southern, Chris Ingraham, said that the Little Canoe Creek Mega-Site is designated as a Norfolk Southern Prime Site, having been thoroughly reviewed for rail access and certified by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama.

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“Norfolk Southern is pleased to partner with Etowah County and the state of Alabama to develop a rail-served industrial site that will generate mutual benefits for all parties involved, including increased opportunity for new jobs and private investment across the region,” he said.

The Growing Alabama Credit program, administered by the Alabama Department of Commerce. This tax credit allows private companies and individuals to get a dollar-for-dollar tax credit up to 50 percent of their income tax liability for investing in approved projects, including site preparation for industrial sites.

“This infrastructure improvement project at the Little Canoe Creek Mega-Site perfectly illustrates how we can use the Growing Alabama Credit as a tool to facilitate growth and expand employment,” said Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield. “It also underscores how true collaboration can advance the goals of economic development in our state.”

“This investment in our community will move us one step closer to seeing significant economic growth in the region as a direct result of the mega-site,” Lott added. “We appreciate the support from our elected officials, Gadsden-Etowah IDA, and other economic development partners. Working together, we will make the mega-site a success.”

“Recall in 2018 when Governor Ivey and the Etowah County delegation announced Advantage Site status for the property, which gives the site in Etowah County global exposure,” Dr. Jones said. “Located adjacent to I-59 with access to US Highway 11 and Norfolk Southern Railway, the Advantage Site is the largest tract of land 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. Many company leaders seek Advantage Sites because they know a good portion of due diligence has already been completed, which saves time (and money) in the decision rendering process and the project’s life cycle.”

The Etowah County Commission began purchasing the Little Canoe Creek Mega-Site property in 2008.

“These types of partnerships are vital in helping the County Commission reach our long- standing goal of seeing high-paying jobs at the mega-site,” said Etowah County Commission President Jeffery Washington. “We truly appreciate this funding made possible by Norfolk Southern and the state.”

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Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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