Spotlight on Jackson, Marshall, DeKalb & Cherokee: Economic Engines

Automotive, poultry, data centers and tourism anchor these four counties' economies

Boat racing on Lake Guntersville at the HydroFest.

Jackson County

Carpet/rug manufacturing/flooring

The county’s largest manufacturing sector is carpet, rugs and flooring, with at least 2,000 employees. The larger companies include Maples Industries in Scottsboro, which makes bath rugs; Engineered Floors in Scottsboro, which makes hardwood flooring; and Mohawk Industries in Bridgeport, which makes carpet backing. 

Automotive suppliers

Jackson County has continued to gain automotive suppliers with the robust auto manufacturing sector in the state. Among the largest employers in this sector are Sanoh America Inc. in Scottsboro, which makes automotive brake lines, and KTNA in Hollywood, which makes automotive interior carpeting. Recently, PHP Fibers, a company in Scottsboro that makes fiber and yarn for airbags, announced a $9.2 million expansion that adds 30 jobs.

Diversified manufacturing

Jackson County’s top industrial manufacturers also include those who make commercial refrigeration units, store fixtures, corrugated paperboard, industrial plastics and gypsum board.


Marshall County

Poultry processing/food production

The largest industrial employers in Marshall County are poultry processors — including Pilgrim’s Pride, Farm Fresh Foods, OK Foods, Wayne Farms, Tyson Foods and AlaTrade Foods — and these companies employ more than 6,600 people with expansions announced regularly. Marshall County ranks first in the state in processing poultry and second in producing poultry for processing.

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Tourism is a big draw here. Marshall County is the only county in the state with three state parks — Bucks Pocket, Cathedral Caverns and Lake Guntersville.

One of the most high-profile success stories for Guntersville is the HydroFest boat race event. The event is sponsored by Marshall County Tourism and Sports with Guntersville serving as host city. It brings thousands of visitors to Lake Guntersville and generates almost $3 million in direct local expenditures, with more than $4 million in total economic impact. Known as “NASCAR on the water,” HydroFest races include the H1 Unlimited hydroplanes, which reach speeds of 200 mph on an oval course set along the scenic lakeside.

Also in Guntersville, City Harbor brings in many visitors. It combines live entertainment, restaurants, shopping and short-term condominium accommodations. The project will soon include a $15 million destination hotel, taking the overall harbor area investment to $30 million. Lawler Hotels LLC, a subsidiary of P. Lawler Enterprises, has been awarded the hotel project at the harbor. P. Lawler Enterprises is already working on two related harbor projects, including shops and restaurants, a brew pub, short-term rental condos and an 8,500-square-foot event facility.

Automotive suppliers/diversified manufacturing

Thanks to nearby automotive assembly plants, Marshall County has grown significantly in the automotive sector. Key companies include TS Tech Alabama and Newman Technology, both of which have expanded recently.

The county has several diverse manufacturers, from Progress Rail, which makes railcar components, to Mueller, which makes fire extinguishers. Tile Liquidators is expanding to make its own products. It also is home to Colormasters in Albertville, which makes flexible packaging.


Marshall County’s proximity to Huntsville companies is paying off. For example, International Defense & Aerospace Group, a leading provider of global aviation solutions, acquired Ace Aeronautics LLC based at the Guntersville Municipal Airport. This sector is expected to grow. The county also has two jet-capable airports, Guntersville and Albertville, which are undergoing major improvements and are vital to economic growth.


DeKalb County

Diverse manufacturing/data centers

The largest economic engine in the county, diverse manufacturing employs thousands. The county is home to several auto suppliers, plastic recycling facilities, playground equipment makers, packaging, metals companies and more.

A few decades back, hosiery was the leader here. Despite offshoring, which undercut much of the business, several hosiery firms still call DeKalb County home. And distribution centers also are major sectors in the county.


Tourism is a major industry in the county. With two state parks and camps that host more than 12,000 children each summer, plus beautiful canyons and waterways, it is a huge draw. Lookout Mountain Alabama is the gateway to the Appalachians, and there are many opportunities to see the beauty of nature.

Fort Payne is also home to the Boom Days Fest, a popular music festival. The picturesque town of Mentone attracts visitors with its scenery, artistic enterprises and even snow skiing.


DeKalb County has three major hatcheries, which makes it No. 2 in the state in production. Those facilities employ hundreds, and they are expanding with millions in capital investment and adding jobs.


Cherokee County


Agriculture and related agribusinesses remain a major industry for Cherokee County. The county’s agribusinesses include grain and egg processing, nursery/grower suppliers, cattle and dairy, forestry and consumer landscape product suppliers.

Dixie Green is a major wholesale greenhouse in Centre that supplies poinsettias and other plants, including annual poinsettias to Disney World and Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.


Cherokee County is nestled in the quiet countryside of northeast Alabama, and centrally located in the ABC Triangle of Atlanta, Birmingham and Chattanooga. Campgrounds, children’s sporting events, fishing from boats and backyard piers on Weiss Lake, water skiing, boating, sailing, canoeing, noodling, hiking, hunting, birdwatching, geocaching, a water park and much more can be done here.

One of the newest additions is the Pirate’s Bay Water Park, which opened in Leesburg and is a part of Chestnut Bay Resort on Weiss Lake.

Automotive/diversified manufacturing

Cherokee County’s largest manufacturing employer is KTH Leesburg Products, a metal framing automotive parts supplier. Other large employers include American Apparel, which makes military outerwear, and Pemco International, which makes porcelain and enamel frits.

Centre-Piedmont-Cherokee County Regional Airport

The airport is currently undergoing a new taxiway, new hangars and other improvements geared to increase economic development.


Business Briefs:

Jackson County

August 2023: The Kevin Dukes Career and Innovation Academy opens in Hollywood.

August 2023: CFD Research, which provides innovative solutions for the aerospace/defense, biomedical/life sciences and energy/materials industries, opens an additional facility at its Engineering Test Center in Hollywood, a $5.2 million investment.

August 2023: The Scottsboro Municipal Airport continues to acquire surrounding property for potential economic development and future expansion.

August 2022: Ashley Pool is named president of Highlands Medical Center.

January 2023: PHP Fibers, a Scottsboro automotive supplier that makes fiber and yarn for airbags, announces a $9.2 million expansion that will add 30 jobs.

November 2022: CFD Research in Hollywood adds 63 acres of property to its facility and an additional test stand four times larger than its previous capability.

July 2022: Silver Eagle Trucking in Scottsboro announces it will build a warehouse and distribution center, a $2.2 million investment.

July 2022: Wenzel Metal Spinning in Scottsboro announces a $2 million expansion.

April 2022: WestRock in Stevenson, which makes corrugated paperboard,

announces an expansion valued at $40 million.

Marshall County

December 2023: Circulus, a plastic recycling company plans to open a $4.2 million location in Arab with 100 employees. It joins a growing recycling sector in Marshall County that includes Roy Tech Environ in Grant and AR Recycling in Arab.

September 2023: Guntersville City Schools are building a $53.5 million high school off U.S. Highway 431.

June 2023: Marshall Medical Centers opens a $61.3 million Patient Tower — the largest construction project on Sand Mountain in more than a decade.

June 2023: Site work begins at Tile Liquidators in Guntersville for an expansion that will allow the company to manufacture its own products. It will employ about 70 new workers.

March 2023: International Defense & Aerospace Group acquires Ace Aeronautics LLC, based at the Guntersville Municipal Airport. Ace provides service life extension and upgrades for UH-60 Blackhawks to global customers.

January 2023: Officials break ground for the Workforce Skills Training Center, a Snead State Community College project.

DeKalb County

September 2023: Fort Payne city schools’ BEAT (Building, Electric, Aviation Technology) Center is well underway. The $5.8 million facility also will offer drone aviation, electric vehicle technology and building and construction programs.

September 2023: Lee Industrial Services Inc. DBA American Buffalo Metals Inc. opens its $12.5 million aluminum processing plant in Crossville.

September 2023: Taylor Coatings LLC, an automated shotblasting and powder coating facility in Ider, plans to open later this year with a $2 million investment and 20 new jobs.

July 2023: A new business incubator, the DeKalb County Entrepreneurial Center, opens in Rainsville.

June 2023: North Alabama Community College officials break ground for a $27 million Workforce Skills Center.

June 2023: Fort Payne metal fabricator Feralloy Corp. has invested $8.2 million in new equipment.

March 2023: Nucor Corp. DBA Vulcraft Alabama invests more than $14.6 million in new manufacturing equipment. The company makes fabricated structural metal.

November 2022: Rainsville Technology is now Moriroku Technology North America. The company, which makes injected plastic automotive parts, has invested more than
$15.9 million in new equipment.

Cherokee County

September 2023: The Centre-Piedmont-Cherokee County Regional Airport has finished its new hangars, and the new runway is underway.


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

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