The automotive sector employs more than 1,100 people. Hwashin America, a Tier 1 chassis and body parts supplier to Hyundai, is the largest and still growing. The firm invested $5.8 million in 2021, adding 20 new jobs.
Other major companies in this sector include Hyundai Steel, which provides steel blanks, and AIA Recycling/JA Logistics, which recycles steel from several Alabama-based Korean automotive companies, and DL A, a warehousing and logistics supplier to Tier One automotive companies. Together these three companies employ more than 200 people.
Timberland accounts for more than 80% of the land area in Butler County, and forestry production contributed nearly 25% of the county’s total agricultural and forestry production, according to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
Butler County is home to Coastal Forest Products, a large plywood and dimension lumber mill that employs more than 400 people. Coastal continues to be the economic engine of South Butler County. Other wood products companies include Structural Wood Systems, which makes structural glued laminated timbers; and Dafor Heavy Timber Fabricators, which makes heavy timber trusses, custom beams and components. Together Structural Wood and Dafor Timber employ approximately 90 people.
This sector is represented by Shoreline Transportation, JA Logistics, Evergreen Forest Products, Richway Transportation and Ozark Logistics. Collectively they serve the needs of automotive suppliers, wood products and thermoplastic components. This expanding sector employs approximately 310 people as they take advantage of direct access to Interstate 65.
Butler County is home to the Regional Medical Center of Central Alabama, which is owned by the city of Greenville’s health care authority. Formerly named L.V. Stabler Memorial Hospital, the facility is managed by UAB. It employs more than 200 people.
The county is home to at least three automotive suppliers that are its largest manufacturing employers. They include Daehan Solutions Alabama, which makes interior sound insulation components; Sejong Alabama LLC, which makes mufflers and exhaust systems; and Chowel Weldparts, which makes welded automotive parts. Many serve the Hyundai manufacturing facility in Montgomery.
The county’s largest manufacturing employer is Saudi Basic Industries Corp., which makes engineered, high-performance plastics used by several manufacturers, including office equipment, electronics, computers and more.
And energy also is emerging as a sector. In 2021, Alabama Power and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International Inc. (MBUSI) received approval from the Alabama Public Service Commission for a proposed 80-megawatt Letohatchee Solar Project in Lowndes County. The 15-year contract allows MBUSI to receive the renewable energy credits from the facility, and Alabama Power will receive the entire electric output. The project is expected to create about 300 construction jobs while generating more than $9 million in tax revenue for Lowndes County over the life of the project. Commercial operation is expected to begin in March 2024.
The county’s largest employer by far is Shaw Industries, a carpet yarn manufacturer in Andalusia that employs more than 1,000 people. Another major textile employer in the area is American Apparel, which makes military uniforms.
The county’s South Alabama Regional Airport in Andalusia is busy with several projects and services. The airport’s industrial park is home to maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities and a branch of the Alabama Aviation College. A heliport on the property provides hot and cold refueling to military and civilian helicopters — important because three-fourths of the military aircraft serviced by the airport are from Fort Rucker, close by in Ozark.
The airport recently received a runway extension and new hangars, and there are plans to build additional T-hangars to accommodate private aircraft storage.
In a recent Alabama Department of Transportation study on statewide aviation and economic impact, South Alabama Regional Airport placed first in direct airport management employment and economic development activity; first in general annual aircraft operations; second in direct business tenant employment and annual economic activity; and third in total annual direct impacts.
The airport recently became home to a branch of Medical Air Rescue Co.
The county’s automotive suppliers make parts for Kia and Hyundai. Its largest supplier is SaeHaeSung in Andalusia’s industrial park. And while MFG Galileo in Opp provides molded fiberglass and other products for several industry sectors, automotive also is a key sector.
The area is served by PowerSouth Energy Cooperative, a major employer. And recently, Covington Electric Cooperative introduced its new subsidiary, Buzz Broadband, located in Opp’s Industrial Park No. 4. Utility companies also have worked with solar companies.
With more than 500 people employed at the county’s two hospitals, health care is a major economic sector. The county is also home to rehab centers and other health care related facilities.
Andalusia Health, with more than 300 employees, had a total of $19 million in economic impact in 2020 and provided more than $15 million in charity and other uncompensated care.
Mizell Memorial Hospital in Opp, with 240 employees, provided $11 million in payroll and benefits in 2021. It also provided $2.6 million in uncompensated care.
Lurleen B. Wallace Community College
LBWCC is one of the area’s largest employers and has a major economic impact on the region.
LBWCC offers academic and technical programs, specialized training for existing business and industry, workforce development, non-credit and continuing education, adult education and community services. It also works closely with area businesses by providing industry-specific training.
The two largest manufacturing employers are Smart of Alabama LLC, which makes automotive frames for Hyundai vehicles and just had another expansion in 2019; and Dongwon Autopart Technology Alabama, which makes parts such as door frames, inner assemblies and more.
Distribution is a major sector and a benefit to major employers here, among them Sister Schubert’s Homemade Rolls Inc; Pepsi Bottling Co. of Luverne; food products distributor Petrey Wholesale Co. Inc.; and Hicks Inc., which distributes fishing, hunting, marine, archery and outdoor products.
February 2022: Smart Alabama LLC, an automotive supplier in Luverne in Crenshaw County, is retooling and adding equipment to supply parts for the Hyundai Santa Cruz pickup, economic developers say. The company already produces stamped metal and robotic welding assemblies for other Hyundai models made in Montgomery.
January 2022: The J.R. Simplot Co. announces it will build a new location in the Opp Industrial Park on the Florala Highway. The grower-focused retailer offers products and technologies to farmers.
January 2022: Medical Air Rescue Co. opens its Andalusia facility at South Alabama Regional Airport, providing air transportation services. The company is based in South Dakota.
December 2021: Covington County’s South Alabama Regional Airport won accolades in an ALDOT aeronautics bureau study. Honors included first place for direct airport management employment and economic development activity.
December 2021: Alabama Power and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International Inc. received approval from the Alabama Public Service Commission for the 80-megawatt Letohatchee Solar Project in Lowndes County. The project is expected to create about 300 construction jobs and generate more than $9 million in tax revenue for Lowndes County over the life of the project. Commercial operation is expected to begin in March 2024.
November 2021: Tellico Services of Alabama, a manufacturer of sewn products for industrial use, announces it is renovating the former Sitel building for expansion at the South Alabama Regional Airport. The company also operates a pack and ship distribution center.
November 2021: Mojo Sportswear announces it will bring an assembly and distribution center from Florida to the former Green Energy site, north of Florala.
September 2021: Hwashin America Corp., an automotive supplier in Greenville, announces a $5.8 million expansion with 20 new jobs.
July 2021: The Norman-McLendon Facility, providing mental health services for incarcerated people, opens in Greenville in Butler County.
July 2021: Greenville Solar LLC plans to acquire, build and equip a solar power facility, a portion of which will be in Greenville. The project creates three full-time jobs and generates more than $2.5 million in new tax revenue for Butler County schools.
April 2021: Covington Electric Cooperative introduces its new subsidiary, Buzz Broadband, a high-speed internet solution. The company recently built a new headquarters in Opp in Industrial Park No. 4.
January 2021: Peak Energy announces a solar energy project in Greenville/Butler County. The investment is $77.4 million.
September 2020: Coastal Forest Products in Butler County announces a $7.2 million equipment expansion. The wood products company employs about 340 people.
August 2020: Ozark Logistics in Greenville announces a third expansion since its opening two years ago, a $4 million investment. The trucking company, a division of Ozark Materials, has more than 100 employees.
April 2020: PowerSouth Energy Cooperative and Origis Energy have partnered for a new 80-megawatt solar project to be built in Covington County and expected to come online in late 2022. PowerSouth plans to buy power from the solar plant.
April 2020: Crenshaw Community Hospital contracts with Alliant, a rural hospital management firm, to manage the hospital. The hospital is owned by the Crenshaw County Health Care Authority.
February 2020: The town of Florala now owns several buildings on the former Florala Memorial Hospital campus. The hospital closed in 2013. City officials are working on future healthcare development for the site.
This article appeared in the April 2022 issue of Business Alabama.