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C3 in the News

YouScience Pilot Program for Schools in the Northwest Alabama EDA Region

A YouScience pilot program was recently launched at schools in the Northwest Alabama EDA region. YouScience is an innovative career assessment tool that uncovers student aptitudes and connects students, parents, and educators to professional and educational pathways.
Five high schools in Fayette, Lamar, and Marion counties participate in this pilot program.

YouScience also promotes business & educational partnerships by pointing our future talented workers to high-paying careers in manufacturing and other in-demand careers. Businesses in our region can sign up for the “Employer Spotlight,” which matches students’ unique talents, interests, and earned knowledge and skills with their future employment pipelines.

Almost a million students in the U.S. are now using YouScience, which is gaining a strong presence in Northwest Alabama and Northeast Mississippi, among other areas of the Southeast U.S. 

SEEDS Industrial Site Assessment Projects Now Underway

Two SEEDS-supported industrial site assessment projects commenced this week in the Northwest Alabama EDA region.

The two SEEDS projects are for (1) the 210+-acre Hamilton I-22 Industrial Park (property listing) and (2) the new 75+-acre Sulligent Industrial Site on U.S. 278. The State of Alabama’s SEEDS Program (Site Evaluation and Economic Development Strategy Act) provides grants to accelerate the development of industry-ready sites. In March, the State of Alabama announced that our region was awarded $179,000 in total SEEDS funding. The SEEDS funds will accelerate our efforts to complete due diligence, site assessment, and planning tasks for strategically located sites. The projects are also utilizing EPA Brownfields Assessment Grant funds.

  • Hamilton I-22 Industrial Park (SEEDS applicant: the Hamilton Industrial Development Board): this project will deliver a master plan for additional improvements to this park, which is already one of the best-positioned industrial locations on the I-22 corridor.
  • Sulligent Industrial Site (SEEDS applicant: the City of Sulligent): this 75+ acre site on the north side of U.S. 278 is a prime growth location for Lamar County. Adjacent to Sulligent’s two largest existing manufacturing operations, Bolzoni Auramo and Max Homes, respectively. The site provides ample acreage to support new and expanding industry projects.

To learn more about these projects and how industrial sites in the area can support your industrial development plans, call the Northwest Alabama Economic Development Alliance at 205-495-9952.

EPA Awards $500,000 Brownfields Assessment Grant to Northwest Alabama EDA

Guin, Alabama – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that C3 of Northwest Alabama, Inc. will receive a $500,000 Brownfields Assessment Grant to conduct environmental assessments and develop cleanup plans on properties located in Fayette, Lamar, and Marion Counties.

These funds are available to both public and private owners to support assessment and redevelopment planning of brownfield sites. Brownfields are real estate properties for which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence – or merely the potential presence – of hazardous substances, and/or petroleum products. In addition to former industrial properties, brownfields may include former gas stations, dry cleaners, or commercial buildings.

“I’m proud that C3 has received this grant,” said Congressman Robert Aderholt. “This money will no doubt have a direct economic impact. This will help business development to overcome some of the regulatory hurdles that can be cost prohibitive for rural areas. I’m proud to support this type of funding in Congress.”

Property owners and investors that are considering completing Phase I and/or Phase II environmental site assessments in preparation for a potential property acquisition and/or prior to beginning site improvements and/or building construction or renovations are encouraged to reach out to C3 of Northwest Alabama to determine if your project is eligible for assistance. This program may be able to pay the full costs of environmental studies.

“I am always grateful to see such funds come back to our district,“ said State Representative Tracy Estes. These funds can be used to assist in economic development moving forward in the hopes of bringing in new jobs to the area, which benefits our communities. These programs also help to raise the overall quality of life for the district.”

“This EPA grant will help our local communities to bring sites back into productive, commercial uses,” said State Representative Kyle South. “Local and regional leaders can use these funds to plan for public improvements that will enhance community health while partnering with businesses and property owners on redevelopment of sites that might otherwise get neglected.”

“This program is a valuable tool for revitalizing neighborhoods, supporting new projects, attracting investment, and fostering environmental stewardship,” said Tom Wisemiller, President & CEO of C3 of Northwest Alabama, Inc.

Use of the assessment funds does not obligate property owners to complete remediation projects if the environmental studies indicate presence of contaminants on a site. For some investors, this program can help them to avoid buying properties with additional complications, while other investors actively seek out brownfield remediation projects.

Mr. Wisemiller said, “The goal of this program is to incentive development and plan for ways to attract new investment, not to regulate sites or compel environmental cleanup projects.”

About EPA Brownfields Program

EPA’s Brownfields Program helps communities address the economic, social, and environmental challenges caused by brownfields and stimulate economic opportunity and environmental revitalization. The program began in 1995 and has provided nearly $2.37 billion in Brownfield Grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return blighted properties to productive reuse. EPA’s investments in addressing brownfield sites have leveraged more than $36 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. Communities that previously received Brownfields Grants used these resources to fund assessments and cleanups of brownfields, and successfully leverage an average of 10.6 jobs per $100,000 of grant funds spent and $19.78 for every dollar. For more information:

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.”


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