Spotlight on Calhoun & Talladega: Economic Engines

From automobiles to marble, Calhoun and Talladega counties have an abundant array of industries

Anniston Army Depot.

Anniston Army Depot (ANAD)

Anniston Army Depot is a maintenance complex recognized for vehicle and weapons expertise. It is the center of industrial and technical excellence for almost all ground combat, assault bridging, small arms, towed and self-propelled artillery systems, locomotives, rail equipment, and non-tactical generators, including the M1 Abrams tanks, Stryker and Armor Multi-purpose Vehicle systems.

Throughout the last decade, ANAD built a reputation for pursuing partnerships with local, regional, and global public and private entities to serve Department of Defense missions.

Major tenants include the Anniston Munitions Center and the Defense Logistics Agency Distribution, which store and ship defense materials.

Anniston Army Depot, whose parent command is the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.

ANAD will be the de-processing site for the AMPV program, a process that occurs before fielding vehicles for the first time.

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The depot will have a ribbon-cutting in June for the facility housing its locomotive and rail mission, known as the Defense Generator and Rail Center.

With more than 4,000 employees, the depot is the largest employer in Calhoun County and second in the 3rd Congressional District of east-central Alabama. It is a major economic force with the largest payroll in the county.

Based on a 2018 economic impact study, the depot’s economic impact on the state was $1,135 million and 12,038 jobs.

Honda Alabama Auto Plant, for the first time, has started the production for the 2022 Passport TrailSport model.

Honda Alabama Auto Plant

The Alabama Auto Plant, formerly Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, has been building vehicles in Lincoln in Talladega County since 2001 and employs more than 4,500 at its engine and vehicle assembly plant.

According to an Economic Development Partnership of Alabama study of Honda and its key Tier-1 suppliers in the state, the annual economic impact is $12 billion, with 45,000 total jobs in Alabama and representing 5.4% of the total Alabama GDP.

Since 2001, the company has produced more than 5 million vehicles and engines, reflecting a cumulative capital investment of more than $2 billion. It has the capacity to build 340,000 vehicles and engines each year.

The plant builds the Odyssey minivan, the Honda Ridgeline pickup truck and the Honda Passport. In 2021, the company announced it has added production of the first-ever Passport TrailSport models — Passport TrailSport and Pilot TrailSport. The new vehicles highlight off-road capability, versatility and durability already engineered into Honda light trucks. The company builds the V-6 engines that power each vehicle.


Honda has drawn an array of automotive suppliers, some of whom also supply the state’s other automakers. Several of these suppliers have expanded, and still others are coming to the area.

In Calhoun County, along with Anniston Army Depot, at least four companies related to this industry are among the largest manufacturing employers. Those include New Flyer, which manufactures transit buses; Bridgewater Interiors, which makes automotive seating systems; International Automotive Components, which makes interior automotive systems; General Dynamics Land Systems, which builds armored vehicles; and BAE Systems, which performs military vehicle rehab.

In Talladega County, main automotive suppliers include New South Express, a Honda supplier; Kasai North America, which supplies plastics; Nemak Aluminum Components; which supplies motor vehicle parts; and Fleetwood Metal Industries, which performs automotive metal stamping.

Metals industries are another economic engine in both counties, serving automotive and other sectors. Among the largest are Tyler Union in Anniston, FabArc in Oxford, Doncasters in Oxford, M&H Valve Co. in Anniston and AmeriBolt in Childersburg.

FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness

Anniston is home to the nation’s premier training facility for emergency responders — the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP).

With a work force of about 1,000, half full-time and half part-time, the Center develops and delivers advanced all-hazards training to emergency responders from all 50 states, U.S. territories and federally recognized tribal nations. Its mission: “Training the Best for The Worst.”

Approximately 50,000 emergency responders complete CDP resident, non-resident and web-based training annually. Most of those come from health care, law enforcement, fire services and emergency management fields.

The CDP campus is home to several unique facilities. Among those is the nation’s only hospital facility dedicated solely to training healthcare professionals in disaster preparedness and response, and the only venue in the country where civilian responders train with hazardous biological materials and toxic chemical agents.

In addition, the CDP campus is also home to FEMA’s Incident Workforce Academy, which trains and equips the agency’s workforce for deployments.

The CDP is also a major economic driver in the area; recent economic research shows the CDP contributes $255 million annually to the economy of Calhoun County and has a $290 million annual economic impact on the state of Alabama.

NASCAR vehicles race at Talladega Superspeedway. Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images.

Talladega Superspeedway

Talladega Superspeedway, which opened in 1969, is NASCAR’s biggest, steepest, most competitive track and features 200-mph speeds with 3- and 4-wide racing.

The venue draws visitors from all 50 states and 22 countries, with most fans coming at least 50 miles and an average of 300 miles for a race.

Talladega Superspeedway is a significant source of tourism income, with an annual economic impact of about $434 million, and providing $61 million in state, local and municipal taxes.

Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB)

AIDB serves almost 36,000 infants, children, adults and seniors in all 67 counties of the state who are deaf, blind or multi-disabled.

AIDB includes five campuses in Talladega — Alabama School for the Deaf, Alabama School for the Blind, Helen Keller School of Alabama (for children with multiple disabilities), E.H. Gentry Technical Facility (for adult rehabilitation), and Alabama Industries for the Blind (providing job training and employment).

AIDB also has 10 regional centers throughout the state.

A spec building in the McClellan Industrial Park.

McClellan Development Authority

McClellan is a former U.S. Army fort that is now a master-planned, mixed-use development community in Anniston with residential, commercial, industrial, education, research and technology and other components, situated about 10 miles north of the I-20 corridor.

Amenities include a public golf course, athletic fields, an aquatic and wellness center and gymnasiums with programs for all ages. There are several educational and training facilities, retail, residential developments and more.

One of the newest amenities is Lake Yahou Park, an eight-acre freshwater lake and surrounding forest land that has not been used recreationally since 1999. It features a half-mile walking trail, a 17-mile multi-use trail, a picnic area and bench seating by the lake.

McClellan is a premier location for bicycle racing. It built a bike trail specifically for the National Interscholastic Cycling League races, the first one to be built in the state. It recently hosted the Alabama Interscholastic Cycling Association State Championship for the first time featuring 560 riders.

The MDA transferred more than 900 acres to the Calhoun County Commission to build horse trails in conjunction with the Back Country Horsemen of America, Alabama McClellan Chapter. The organization builds and maintains the trails, and is working on signage, picnic tables, a kiosk and mounting blocks.

The Calhoun County Economic Development Council owns McClellan’s industrial park and is building three speculative buildings on the property.

McClellan is focusing this year on expanding its residential development.

And in July 2021, ground was broken for a 2½-year, $31 million Alabama National Guard barracks project at its McClellan Training Center. It will replace 15 World War II-era buildings with three two-story barracks, two single-story barracks, two dining facilities, two company administration buildings and a battalion headquarters building totaling 107,812 square feet of new construction with bunk space for more than 350 personnel.


The quarries in Sylacauga in Talladega County produce the whitest, purest marble in the world, giving it the name “The Marble City” for the vast deposit of fine-quality marble there. Companies in the city grind the marble to use as an additive in several products. Marble also is used for national cemetery markers, sculptures and buildings.

Among the largest is Imerys USA Inc., a marble quarry producing traditional Alabama White marble. A recent newcomer to the sector is Sims Bark in Sylacauga, which bags marble chips.

Heritage Plastics has expanded its plant in Sylacauga.

Business Briefs

May 2022: The Calhoun County Economic Development Council, which owns the industrial park at McClellan, is building three speculative buildings on that site. Two are 7,500 square feet and one is 10,000 square feet.

May 2022: Anniston’s new United States Courthouse opens. The $42.5 million building for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama downtown includes a district courtroom, a bankruptcy courtroom, three judges’ chambers and 13 secured parking spaces, along with other court-related tenants.

May 2022: Heritage Plastics, a plastic pellet maker in Sylacauga, invests $10.2 million in an expansion of its plant.

April 2022: Aer-Flo Sports purchases the Lincoln speculative building in the Lincoln Industrial Park. The firm is investing $7 million in its move from two smaller buildings in Lincoln and is expanding to 90 employees.

March 2022: Alabama Specialty Products Inc. announces a $3.5 million expansion with the purchase of new equipment and addition of 26 jobs.

January 2022: Tru-Wood Cabinet Co. locates an expansion facility in Anniston, a $3 million investment that adds 157 new jobs.

December 2021: Honda Manufacturing of Alabama in Lincoln launches mass production of the refreshed 2022 Honda Passport SUV and is building the first Honda TrailSport models that include the Passport TrailSport and the Pilot TrailSport.

December 2021:  Merryweather Foam Inc. in Sylacauga begins a $2.3 million expansion to its urethane and polystyrene foam products and will add eight jobs.

November 2021: Honda Manufacturing of Alabama celebrates its 20th year of building vehicles in Alabama. The plant has produced more than 5 million vehicles — Odyssey minivans, Ridgeline pickups and Passport and Pilot SUVs — and V-6 engines.

July 2021: A $31 million Alabama National Guard barracks project kicks off at its McClellan Training Center in Anniston. The new buildings will replace 15 World War II-era buildings.

June 2021: Communication Associates, a manufacturer of telecom/CATV related products, expands in Anniston with 15 new jobs and a $1 million investment.

May 2021:  Nemak USA Inc. in Sylacauga is investing $50.1 million to add the production of battery trays for electric vehicles.

April 2021: Virginia Transportation in Lincoln starts construction of a new facility to manufacture Class 8 tractor roof caps with a capital investment of $5.1 million. The firm will add 46 workers.

March 2021: Doncasters Southern Tool in Oxford, which makes high-precision alloy components and superalloys for the aerospace, energy and automotive sector, announces a $3.5 million expansion and addition of a 300-pound vacuum casting furnace, along with new technology.

December 2020: Cold rolled steel producer AM Group announces a $6 million investment and expansion of its facility in Childersburg, adding 46 jobs.

October 2020: International Automotive Components in Anniston announces a $21.6 million investment that will create 63 new jobs. The company makes automotive interior components and systems.

October 2020: Bridgewater Interiors in Oxford begins a $10 million expansion that will create 35 jobs. It makes seating systems for Honda  Alabama Pilot and Passport vehicles.

September 2020: Automotive Custom Carpets Inc., the largest manufacturer of automotive replacement carpet in the world, relocates from Anniston to a larger facility in Oxford. It represents a $5.13 million capital investment.

September 2020: New Flyer of America Inc. announces the launch of an innovative workforce development program in Anniston. New Flyer is a subsidiary of NFI Group Inc., one of the world’s leading bus manufacturers.

September 2020: Kronospan, a manufacturer of wood-based panel products and related value-added products, announces an additional $101 million investment to its company in Oxford. The total investment is $463 million and will create a total of 310 jobs.

September 2020: Sims Bark locates in Sylacauga with an investment of $1.35 million.  The firm bags marble chips.

This article appeared in the July 2022 issue of Business Alabama.

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