Spotlight: Jackson, Marshall, DeKalb and Cherokee Counties

Jackson, Marshall, DeKalb and Cherokee counties are building upon their proximity to high-tech and manufacturing opportunities.

Lake Guntersville State Park.

Jackson, Marshall, DeKalb and Cherokee counties in northeast Alabama are close to the high-tech and manufacturing opportunities in the Huntsville/Madison County area, as well as south Tennessee and east Georgia — but these counties also are making the most of their own great features.

Along with economic development, the counties are also focused on recreational opportunities and community improvements, to serve residents and attract tourists. Projects include trails, downtown beautification, riverfront and lake projects and more, capitalizing on the national trend of remote workers seeking more picturesque places to live.

For example, Marshall County, with Lake Guntersville, is the site of many high-profile fishing tournaments and has been cited as one of the top areas in the country for relocation and vacation homes. And the same trend is happening in Cherokee County, with Weiss Lake, says Centre Mayor Mark Mansfield. Other beauties in the counties include Little River Canyon, Sand Mountain and Lookout Mountain.

“We have building going on, and our chamber is focusing on those who can work out of their homes for the foreseeable future,” Mansfield says. “They realize that they can move, that they had rather look at mountains and water. We are capturing a new audience, and we want them here.”

School systems also are doing their part to ensure each student has opportunities for college preparation, as well as career technical training in several areas. Every system has announcements of new programs and new facilities completed or underway.

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Jackson County has seen expansions in automotive suppliers, plastics, metals and paper products, and its Google data center in Bridgeport is operating with 100 employees. Also, CFD Research has built a new engineering test center in the county’s industrial park.

Jackson County has watched the court battle involving the TVA Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant, which has been incomplete for many years. A federal court recently denied the sale to Nuclear Development LLC.

“We were certainly disappointed the judge did not rule in favor of Nuclear Development LLC on Bellefonte,” says Rick Roden, president of the Mountain Lakes Chamber of Commerce. “We really thought this was the best chance we had ever seen to have Bellefonte completed. It would have been the largest economic development project ever in the state of Alabama. And it would have created huge economic growth for Jackson County and all of northeast Alabama.

“But now we must regroup and see if there is a way to use the Bellefonte site for some other type of development. Local leadership is already meeting to discuss the possibilities,” he says.

Main Street in Scottsboro.

Marshall County has seen expansions in its agricultural sector, automotive suppliers, aerospace, packaging and more. Its largest economic sector is poultry processing, and this sector has grown with expansions and new companies.

DeKalb County has announced expansions in plastic fabrication, metals and automotive suppliers that have expanded several times.

And in Cherokee County, which has a strong sector in nurseries and other agricultural products, a new nursery company has arrived. Moreover, the county airport is getting several improvements.

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

For more on Jackson, Marshall, DeKalb and Cherokee counties, see the links below:

Economic Engines

Health Care

Higher Education

Movers & Shapers

Community Development

Culture & Recreation

This story appears in the November 2021 issue of Business Alabama magazine.

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