Author: Tom Wisemiller

A Conversation with Northwest Alabama EDA Chairman Andy Johnson

Andy Johnson – the Chairman of Northwest Alabama EDA – talks about exciting trends in the Columbus MS market area with the larger economic impacts extending into Lamar County AL and the Northwest Alabama EDA region.

Andy is the Chairman, Co-CEO, and CFO of the The Bank of Vernon. The Bank of Vernon – headquartered in Vernon – has been expanding into the growing Columbus, MS market area and now has five locations in AL and MS.

The Columbus MS area has attracted several major economic development projects in recent years. Last fall, Steel Dynamics announced that it is building an aluminum flat-rolled mill and a biocarbon production facility in Columbus, MS:

“The $1.9 billion recycled aluminum flat rolled mill is expected to start construction this year with an expected completion in 2025. The company is expanding its existing Columbus campus located on a Tennessee Valley Authority Megasite, by building two new facilities in the Golden Triangle Industrial Park.”

10G Freedom Fiber is Expanding in Northwest Alabama

Freedom Fiber – which offers 10G data speeds to residents and businesses – is a major asset for the Northwest Alabama EDA region! Freedom Fiber is offered by Tombigee Communications, a subsidiary of Tombigee Electric Cooperative.

In this video, Steve Foshee, President & CEO of Tombigbee Electric Cooperative talks about why their Freedom Fiber service is among the fastest and most innovative rural broadband programs in the southeast U.S. Steve also provides updates on ongoing and future Freedom Fiber expansion projects.

Highlight Video of Northwest Alabama EDA’s 2023 Annual Meeting

Last month, Northwest Alabama EDA held its annual “State of the Region” Meeting at the Holiday Inn in Guin, Alabama. Here are some of the highlights of the event:

The video includes remarks from long-time C3 supporter, Congressman Robert Aderholt, who commended our region for working together. The keynote speaker was Mike Raita, Regional Director for Senator Tommy Tuberville, and former poular sports newscaster. Mike talked about teamwork, leadership, and perseverance.

We had a great turnout at the event this year! Thank you for everyone who attended. A key theme was honoring the tremendous impact that our schools, teachers, coaches, and trainers have on kids – the future workforce of our region.

Northwest Alabama EDA recognized Tombigbee Electric Cooperative President & CEO, Steve Foshee, with a special Community Service Award. Our Champion of the Year is Stanley Allred, the Mayor of Millport. Industry of the Year is Timber Creek Housing, which opened a new facility in Bear Creek in 2021-22.

Bevill State’s Machine Tool Technology Program Receives Grant Funds

Bevill State Community College is excited to announce a contribution of $37,500 for scholarships and student competition from the Gene Haas Foundation. The Gene Haas Foundation Scholarship will be awarded to students interested in the Machine Tool Technology program on the Jasper and Hamilton campuses of Bevill State. A portion of the grant funds may be used towards sponsorship of a competition, such as SkillsUSA, highlighting the Machine Tool programs.

For more information, see this article.

O’Neal Manufacturing Services Opening New Steel Fabrication Plant in Fayette

Area Development, July 27, 2022:

O’Neal Manufacturing Services plans to invest $5.5 million to open a 130,000-square-foot steel fabrication facility in Fayette, Alabama. The $5.5 million project is expected to create 70 jobs within three years.

The new facility, located in an existing building, will feature robotic and manual welding stations, a beam-cutting line, wet paint booth, press brakes, plasma cutting, and saw cutting capabilities to support medium- to heavy-gauge steel fabrication.

“We are thrilled to have acquired the facility, and we are even more excited to have the skilled workers that were available in Fayette. People have always been our most valuable asset,” OMS President and CEO Kent Brown said. “In this time of unprecedented low unemployment and worker shortages across the country, good people have become even more valuable.

Read more at Area Development.

SHOWA Announces New Chief Commerce Officer

SHOWA Group recently announced that William “Billy” Emerson Harris has been appointed Chief Commerce Officer.

From the July 6, 2022 press release: “This position, which is new for the company, will serve to bolster the recent onshore manufacturing investment SHOWA is making in Fayette, AL.”

“The former CEO of Sri Trang USA, Inc. will use his 30 years of experience in onshore and offshore manufacturing to solidify the impact of the SHOWA, Fayette, Alabama facility. Which, once fully expanded, will produce an output of 3.0 billion gloves per year.”


Northwest Alabama Economic Development Alliance
4020 U.S. Highway 43
Guin, AL 35563

Phone: 1-205-468-3213
Toll Free: 1-800-399-7205
Fax: 205-468-3214

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