Spotlight on Greene, Hale, Marengo & Sumter: Economic Engines

Agriculture, wood products, manufacturing and more make up the industrial base in these four west Alabama counties

Hale County tops the state for catfish production.

Greene County

Health care

Greene County Hospital is among the county’s largest employers with 200 workers. It also operates a nursing home and rural health clinic.

Wood products/paper

The largest manufacturing employer is WestRock Co., which makes paper boards, with 230 employees. Dowel maker Eutaw Hardwood Dimension has 25 employees.


This is the largest sector of Greene County employment. Industries range from catfish processing to roofing products to machine shops and hardware.

Fishing/Hunting/Outdoor Tourism

Greene County, like much of the Black Belt, is an ecotourism paradise, with hunting clubs and property. Among the best known is Leavellwood, a 490-acre, family-owned hunting and fishing destination that also is a wedding and event venue.


Consolidated Catfish Producers is the county’s second-largest industrial employer, with 150 workers.

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The county is home to several gaming businesses, including the Greene County Entertainment Center. Operating in the former Greenetrack, the new business offers parimutuel horse race betting. So far, it has 30 employees.

Hale County

Wood products

Westervelt Lumber Co. is the county’s largest manufacturing company.


Hale County ranks first in the state for catfish production. Cattle and soybeans are also key agricultural products.


Plastic fabricator Plastics Inc. in Greensboro is one of the top three industrial employers in Hale County, with 43 workers.

Health care

Hale County Hospital, with 163 employees, is one of the largest employers in the county. The hospital has an economic impact of $27 million on the community. It includes a 25-bed hospital and clinics located in Greensboro and Moundville.

Marengo County

Wood/paper products

At least six of the county’s largest manufacturing employers are involved in the wood and paper products sector. The largest employer, WestRock in Demopolis, makes paper products. Other companies in this sector include Linden Lumber, Two Rivers Lumber, Drax Group, Demopolis Hickory Mill and TP Logging

Health care

Whitfield Regional Hospital in Demopolis, operated by the UAB Health System, has at least a $56 million economic impact. It is one of the largest non-manufacturing employers in the county with 420 employees. A new $3 million emergency department opened in fall 2023 and the Whit Specialty Vein Clinic also opened.

Agriculture/food processing 

Cattle is the county’s largest agricultural commodity, followed by catfish production and cotton. Foster Farms, a food producer of chicken and other products, is one of the largest manufacturing employers in the county. Other larger employers in this sector include Southfresh Feeds.


Soggy Bottom Lodge in Linden offers world-class deer, turkey and duck hunting, bass fishing and more. The county also has birding trails, Chickasaw State Park, Fosque Park with camping lots, a riverwalk on the Tombigbee River, a newly renovated Demopolis City Landing and historic homes and museums. Demopolis also is home to Christmas on the River in December and Rooster Day in April.

Sumter County

University of West Alabama

UWA in Livingston is the largest non-manufacturing employer in Sumter County and one of the top 10 employers in the Black Belt region. It is the only four-year university in the state that offers both academic and career technical training programs.

UWA also is the site of the University Charter School, a pre-K through 12th grade school and the first charter school sponsored by a university. After quickly outgrowing its original space, the school recently opened a second campus.


The largest transportation employer in the county is McElroy Truck Lines, which operates flatbed trucking and shipping. McElroy, located in Cuba in Sumter County, has 750 employees.

Forest/wood products 

Sumter County is home to companies that cover all aspects of the forest/wood products supply chain, including Prystup Packaging Products, which manufactures, cuts and prints folding cartons; Southwest Paper; Enviva, a Maryland-based company that plans to manufacture 600,000 metric tons of wood pellets for export per year and to employ 100; WestRock in Livingston, which makes corrugated boxes; and several logging companies. Together these companies employ more than 1,000 people.

Health care

The county is home to Hill Hospital of Sumter County, one of the area’s largest employers. Health care in general is the county’s third largest industry and has remained steady over the past few years with potential for growth.

Sumter Health and Rehabilitation also is located in the county. UWA also has an active role in health care through its division of nursing, school of health sciences and human performance, its certified nursing assistant program and its partnerships with Champion Sports Medicine and Andrews Sports Medicine.

Since 2016, the county has benefitted from a youth certified nursing aide program leading to entry-level jobs in health care. While youth learn job skills, rural clinics and nursing homes have a larger pool of potential employees.

Business Briefs:

April 2024: State funding has been approved for a $62 million Alabama School of Healthcare Sciences in Demopolis, Marengo County. The residential high school will be open to students from across Alabama who want to begin working toward a health care career. Whitfield Regional Hospital is a partner in the project. The school is slated to open in fall 2026.

April 2024: The Marengo County Commission approved tax abatements for three solar companies bringing five proposed solar projects to Marengo County. The investment for each project is expected to provide $15 million to $19 million over 20 years to schools and the hospital.

March 2024: Southwest Paper in Livingston, a family-owned and operated manufacturer of converted paper products, announces an expansion that will create an additional 20 jobs. It is headquartered in Livingston with plants in Arkansas.

March 2024: Demopolis and 16 other Black Belt communities will be receiving more fiber optic coverage. Yellowhammer, a private infrastructure investment firm, will develop, build and manage fiber broadband to 53,000 homes and businesses along 300 miles in central Alabama, a $230 million investment. Pinebelt Wireless continues to add 5G fiber to homes and businesses in south Marengo County.

2024: The University of West Alabama receives an NTIA Connecting Minority Communities broadband grant to enhance broadband access and more in Sumter and Greene counties.

2024: Prystup Packaging Products in Livingston, housed in a new multimillion-dollar production facility, is expanding for the third time. This $3.5 million project will expand a 32,000-square-foot facility to connect two existing facilities, creating warehouse and production line space.

February 2024: The Demopolis City Council approves a tax abatement for Stellar Renewable Power LLC, which is planning to build a solar power project within the city’s police jurisdiction. The proposed 175-megawatt project will include an estimated $200 million investment in Marengo County and about $50 million in Hale County. Construction is expected to begin in 2025.

November 2023: Whitfield Regional Hospital in Demopolis opens its new emergency room, a $5 million facility with updated equipment, more exam rooms, modern trauma bays, telestroke service and more.

August 2023: Wallace Community College Selma opens its $4.7 million West Alabama Regional Training Center, housed on the Demopolis campus in Marengo County. The center offers specialty class space for welding, machine tooling, HVAC, industrial maintenance and computer training. The center also offers a comprehensive CDL course.

September 2023: The Demopolis Municipal Airport’s improvement plan is approved, which includes an expanded taxiway and new terminal building.

August 2023: The $25 million University Charter School Smith Campus opens for grades 4-12. It is named for the late Justin L. Smith, a former member of the University of West Alabama board and a longtime supporter of the charter school. Grades PK-3 remain at Lyon Hall.

June 2023: Enviva, a Maryland-based biofuel company, breaks ground on a new wood pellet production facility in Epes in Sumter County. The plant will have a capacity of 1.1 million metric tons per year and is expected to be in service by mid-2024 and fully operating by 2025.

This article appears in the June 2024 issue of Business Alabama.

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