Spotlight on Coffee, Dale & Geneva Counties: Economic Engines

A Blackhawk gets serviced. Photo by U.S. Army

Fort Rucker/U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence
Fort Rucker’s 63,660 acres is located mostly in Dale County, but it has far-reaching impact on the entire region and the world. One of the largest employers 

in the state, Fort Rucker is home to the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence. It is the primary training center for Army aviation. Fort Rucker assists in supporting the economy of surrounding communities, and just within a 50-mile radius has an annual economic impact of $1.97 billion.  

Fort Rucker’s population includes 5,328 military, 5,306 military family members, 2,226 Department of the Army civilians, 1,376 civilians in other departments and 5,556 contractors. Its military retiree population within a 50-mile radius is 7,768, plus 25,480 retiree dependents.

In addition, Fort Rucker provides support to an additional 3,327 soldiers at Eglin Air Force Base and Camp Shelby. 

Fort Rucker Headquarters. Photo by U.S. Army

Fort Rucker is a draw, attracting several aviation companies to this area.

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Dale County’s largest employer is M1 Support Services, providing aircraft maintenance and service in support of the Fort Rucker mission. 

Others in the field include Globalstar Aerospace, a federally certified repair firm, that has moved out of the county business incubator and into Ozark Corporate Park; Trident, a national flight school that is expanding at Blackwell Field in Ozark, and Airbus Helicopters Inc., which has a U.S. Army contract that will bring 17 new UH-72A helicopters to Fort Rucker.

Local K-12 schools and colleges are responding to the related need for workers. The Alabama Aviation College at Enterprise State Community College recently announced an expansion of its advanced composites course to a degree program that includes up to 35 industry certifications. Also, Safran Helicopter Engines USA donated an Arriel 1E2 engine, found in the UH-72 Lakota helicopter, to the college to be used for training. 

Dale County was named first in the state to receive Foreign Direct Investment-Qualified Community designation for its plethora of international companies involved in international pilot training. 

“Our main focus is on aerospace and aviation,” says Denise Ellis, marketing director for the city of Ozark. 

Ground is broken for the new airport terminal in Enterprise.

Agriculture and food production
All three counties rank among the top in total agricultural production in the state, and several local schools have developed workforce programs in agricultural science and agricultural engineering.

Coffee County ranks high in poultry production, cotton and cattle. Wayne Farms in Enterprise, a poultry processor, completed a multi-million-dollar plant expansion, adding a new processing line with new technology and equipment and 400 new jobs. 

And Ben E. Keith, a Texas-based food and beverage distributor, is investing $100 million to open an advanced food service distribution center in Coffee County, creating 80 direct jobs. It also plans to expand Kelley Foods in Elba. 

Other larger companies in this sector include Pilgrim’s Pride, Frit Industries Inc., SYSCO Food Services Gulf Coast and Brooks Peanuts. 

Wayne Farms, in Enterprise, recently expanded.

Automotive suppliers
The area has several Tier 1 and Tier 2 automotive suppliers, thanks to the proximity of Hyundai in Montgomery and Kia in West Point, Georgia, but the reach is not limited to those two manufacturers.

In Coffee County, Hwaseung Automotive Alabama and INZI Controls of Alabama are among the largest manufacturing employers, and there are several more in the area. The same is true of Dale County, with Michelin North America as a major employer. 

In Coffee County, HS Automotive, a Tier 1 automotive supplier and one of the

county’s largest employers, announced another expansion. 

Health care
All three counties count hospitals and health care facilities among their top five employers. Hospitals in the area include Medical Center Enterprise in Coffee County, Dale Medical Center in Dale County and Wiregrass Medical Center in Geneva County. Recently, Dale Medical Center opened a new clinic in Daleville.

Joining this sector is a new state veterans home planned for Enterprise. Early in 2020, the Alabama State Board of Veterans Affairs selected Enterprise from 12 proposed sites in southeast Alabama for the $65 million project. Construction on the 175-bed facility is expected to begin this year. It will have 175 beds and employ 250 to 300 people. 

In response to that news, the area’s K-12 systems and colleges are adding health care options for students. 


This area has several distribution centers, from food products to the recent announcement that Amazon plans to build a last-mile distribution facility in Daleville. 

Metal Fabrication
All three counties count metal fabrication as a thriving sector. Coffee County’s major employers include two companies that manufacture truck trailers, along with two more that are in the fabrication and die casting industries. Those include Dorsey Trailers and Alfab Inc., E&H Steel Corp., Quality Fab, Trailer World Manufacturing and Air Performance. Motobilt, which makes custom fabrication parts for Jeeps, and Anvil, an industrial fabricator, moved to Ozark. 

Geneva County has companies that produce aluminum products among its larger manufacturing employers.

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