Spotlight on Houston & Henry: Economic Engines

Agribusiness, aviation, manufacturing, logistics, retail and more make up Houston and Henry counties' economies

Delta Connection offers twice daily flights between Dothan Regional Airport and Atlanta.


Peanuts are big business in Houston and Henry counties.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) estimates that in 2022 Houston County was the top peanut-producing county in Alabama with almost 107 million pounds of peanuts harvested.

Henry County harvested around 56.5 million pounds of peanuts.

The other top peanut producing counties are Geneva, Baldwin and Escambia.

Overall, the NASS estimates that Alabama produced 559 million pounds of peanuts in 2022, making Alabama second in the United States in peanut production behind Georgia.

- Sponsor -

Meanwhile, in Henry County, Golden Peanut & Tree Nut in Headland is one of the county’s largest employers with 99 employees.

But the Wiregrass Region is also cotton country. In 2021, Houston County was among the state’s top two cotton producers at 43,300 bales, behind Madison County at 57,000 bales, according to the USDA.

On the other hand, Henry County’s largest export is timber. It is home to Great Southern Wood Preserving. And Abbeville Fiber, which is owned by Great Southern Wood, produces 200,000 feet of finished wood a day and procures an estimated $14 to $15 million in yellow pine timber from local suppliers, according to the Henry County Economic Development Council.

The council also reports that Henry County has 240,000 acres of timberland, and the timber industry provides more than 270 jobs.

In Dothan, one of the area’s largest employers is the chicken processing company Wayne Farms.


Dothan Regional Airport is one of six major airports in Alabama, with 428 employees and a payroll of nearly $21 million. A study by the Aviation Council of Alabama, published in 2020, calculated the airport’s economic impact at $93.7 million with a payroll impact of more than $50.7 million.

The Dothan Regional Airport is also home to the CAE Dothan Training Center. Open since 2017, the CAE Training Center is a high-tech, 79,000-square-foot facility that provides fixed-wing flight instruction and training to the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Army and others.

Health Care

Health care is a major driver of Houston County’s economy. Southeast Health, a community-based academic health system, serves 460,000 residents. The health system includes the Medical Center, Medical Group, Foundation, Southeast Health Statera Network and the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine.

The Southeast Health Medical Center is a 420-bed regional referral center and one of three certified comprehensive stroke centers in Alabama. It is also a Level II trauma center. In addition, Southeast Health has a chest pain center and the only NICU in its region with specialty trained neonatologists.

Southeast Health employs around 3,000 people and was named in Forbes magazine’s list of Best-in-State Employers for 2022. Forbes and Statista Inc., the statistics portal and industry ranking provider, sponsored the award.

Meanwhile Flowers Hospital’s CEO Jeff Brannon reported in May 2023 that Flowers’ overall total economic impact stood at more than $263 million in 2022.

Flowers also provided care to more than 303,200 patients, including more than 40,700 who visited the emergency department and more than 12,100 inpatient admissions. The hospital has also performed more than 15,000 surgeries and delivered more than 1,400 babies.

In addition, Brannon reported 234,000 patient cases through Flowers’ Medical Group physician clinics and outpatient sites, including the Breast Health Center, Cardiac Rehabilitation, the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center and outpatient speech therapy program.

Another health care entity, medical device and industrial products maker Global Resources International, and its subsidiary, Advanced Product Solutions, announced earlier this year a $1.6 million expansion in Houston County to the old Russell Corp. building. The expansion will create 36 jobs.


The number of manufacturers, industrial parks and distribution centers in Houston and Henry counties are many.

The various sectors range from distillers, food processing and logistics to tire manufacturing, wood manufacturing, industrial systems and medical devices.


Leaders in Houston and Henry counties are working to make the region a shopping and entertainment destination. The Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce, as part of its Grow Dothan campaign, worked successfully to bring the women’s clothing retailer Simply 10 to the city’s southside.

The region also boasts several theme parks, museums and restaurants. Headland in Henry County has a robust agri-tourism sector with destinations like Corndodgers Farm and the Todd Syrup Farm.

Dothan maintains public parks with amenities like the Rip Hewes Athletic Complex for athletic events.

“We’ve made significant investments in our sports tourism. So, we have a lot of new fields, baseball fields and softball fields,” says Brandon Shoupe, chairman of the Houston County Commission.

“The great thing about sports tourism, especially with it as it relates to youth sports, is that parents come. Grandparents come. Sometimes aunts and uncles come. A lot of times they’ll stay in a hotel for a night or two, go out to restaurants and shop and so it’s a good return on investment.”

Business Briefs:

MAY 2023: LBA Hospitality, a hotel management company based in Dothan, announces it will add a new brand to its portfolio, avid hotel by IHG in Ocala, Florida.

APRIL 2023: Construction Partners Inc. (CPI), a civil infrastructure company specializing in constructing and maintaining roadways, acquires Pickens Construction Inc. of Anderson, South Carolina. CPI will integrate approximately 20 employees who will work at CPI’s South Carolina platform company, King Asphalt Inc.

MARCH 2023: Global Resources International and its subsidiary, Advanced Product Solutions, announce plans for a $1.6 million expansion in Houston County. GRI provides medical devices and industrial products and is headquartered in Flowery Branch, Georgia.

MARCH 2023: Flowers Insurance Agency in Dothan announces a merger with Where Relationships Matter Group. The merger makes Flowers the third company to join WRM, an entity formed with the earlier merger between Pritchett-Moore Insurance and Byars|Wright Insurance.

JANUARY 2023: Wallace Community College in Dothan captures a $300,796 Alabama Community College System grant for industrial diesel systems technology training. The training will help meet the need for trained truck and bus mechanics, diesel engine specialists, and forklift and CDL class B drivers.

DECEMBER 2022: Circle City Brewing Co. opened in downtown Dothan, offering craft beers and live entertainment.

NOVEMBER 2022: Friend Bank, a Community Development Financial Institution in Dothan, is one of two Alabama banks and one of seven in the Southeast selected by Regions Bank for a program that lets customers access Regions Bank ATMs without having to pay out-of-network fees.

OCTOBER 2022: Summerford Pallet Co. in Ashford announces the addition of robotics to its operation, automating processes like precision pallet and board sawing.

SEPTEMBER 2022: Gateway Tire, operated by the wholesale and retail tire dealer Dunlap & Kyle Inc., is investing $9 million to expand its 200,000-square-foot warehouse in Dothan’s Westgate Industrial Park by 100,000 square feet. The expansion is estimated to bring 30 new jobs.

SEPTEMBER 2022: SmartLam North America in Dothan announces plans to invest $62 million to build a new high-tech, 140,000-square-foot plant to produce glulam beams and columns.

SEPTEMBER 2022: Peak Renewables plans to invest $30 million to build a new wood pellet production plant. The plant, which turns mill residuals into fuel, will will run 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

AUGUST 2022: SmartBank, headquartered in Tennessee, announces its acquisition of the historic Ellison Building in downtown Dothan, with plans to relocate its Dothan branch there.

AUGUST 2022: The city of Dothan and the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology team to develop the new HudsonAlpha Wiregrass. The facility will promote genomics education, provide genomics research on Alabama peanuts, recruit agriculture tech startups and support small businesses and entrepreneurs.

JUNE 2022: Dothan and Houston County officials, members of the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce and others break ground on a new 100,000-square-foot speculative building in the Sam Houston Industrial Park in hopes of attracting new industry.

APRIL 2022: Third-party logistics warehouse operator Dothan Warehouse announces an $8 million, 30,000-square-foot expansion, adding 25 new jobs.

NOVEMBER 2021: FedEx Ground announces plans to open a $57 million logistics facility in Houston County — a 317,000-square-foot facility in the Sam Houston Industrial Park. The move is expected to create more than 200 jobs.

NOVEMBER 2021: Great Southern Wood Preserving in Abbeville announces its acquisition of Kentucky-based Escue Wood Preserving for an undisclosed amount. Great Southern produces YellaWood brand of pressure-treated pine.

OCTOBER 2021: The Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce announces plans to bring the women’s clothing retailer Simply 10 to the city.

This article appears in the July 2023 issue of Business Alabama.

The latest Alabama business news delivered to your inbox