Spotlight: Calhoun and Talladega counties

Located in northeast Alabama, Calhoun and Talladega counties have plenty of natural resources, robust tourism and diverse manufacturing

Choccolocco Park in Oxford.

Calhoun and Talladega counties in northeast Alabama are situated off Interstate 20. Natural resources are plentiful, tourism is robust and communities are involved in the quality of life of their cities and towns.

A diverse manufacturing economy that continues to grow, along with comprehensive K-12, community college and four-year college education, provides many opportunities for jobs of all kinds.

Economic developers are working to ensure that there are plenty of buildings and sites for future development. For example, Calhoun County has three new spec buildings underway and more in planning. “We’ve had a lot of contacts over time about available space and buildings,” says Don Hopper, executive director of the Calhoun County Economic Development Council. “There is a demand for them.”

Likewise, Talladega County has a speculative building in Sylacauga, and sites available, says Deborah Thornton, research analyst for the Talladega County Economic Development Authority.

Downtown Anniston.

Calhoun County’s largest overall employer is the Anniston Army Depot, which has a huge economic impact and creates thousands of indirect jobs. The county also is the home of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Center for Domestic Preparedness, providing all types of training for first responders from all 50 states. And McClellan, a former U.S. Army fort that is now a huge master planned mixed use development, continues to grow.

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In Talladega County, Honda Alabama Auto Plant is the largest employer with 4,500 employees. It generates a major economic impact on its own and through auto suppliers it attracts.

These counties also are home to major tourism attractions — especially NASCAR racing at Talladega Superspeedway — plus all the hiking and biking in individual cities and the Talladega National Forest, historical sites and ecotourism options.

Health care is another huge economic sector, as is higher education, and both serve the community.

Officials say that despite such large companies that employ thousands, other sectors also have grown to help the diversity of the economy in both counties, such as health care, transportation/logistics and tourism. Many existing industries are investing in expansions.

Downtown Talladega.

These counties also promote workforce development, as schools and colleges partner with industry to provide training.

Quality of life and amenities for residents and tourists also are important here, as cities build bike and hiking trails, improve parks and revitalize downtowns.

In Calhoun County, a new federal courthouse and relocating city hall back to downtown Anniston have prompted other developments. The city of Oxford has redeveloped its historic downtown, and its Choccolocco Park hosts sports tournaments from all over.

In Talladega County, the city of Talladega recently restored its Talladega Walk of Fame in the Davey Allison Memorial Park; the city of Sylacauga hopes to have a new indoor recreation swim center; and the city of Lincoln is proud of Lincoln Landing, giving the public access to Logan Martin Lake and hosting a full schedule of golf tournaments

Lori Chandler Pruitt is a Birmingham-based freelance writer for Business Alabama.

For more on Calhoun and Talladega counties, see the links below:

In Focus

Economic Engines

Health Care

Higher Education

Movers & Shapers

Community Development

Culture & Recreation

This story appears in the July 2022 issue of Business Alabama magazine.

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