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

From carpeting to poultry, these four counties have a diverse manufacturing base.

In Guntersville, City Harbor will include retail, entertainment and condos.

Jackson County

Carpets and 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 scatter rugs and bath sets; Mohawk Industries in Bridgeport, maker of carpet fibers and rugs; and Engineered Floors in Scottsboro.


Automotive suppliers

Jackson County has continued to gain automotive suppliers that support the state’s robust auto manufacturing sector. 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.


Health care/higher education

As one of Jackson County’s largest employers, Highlands Medical Center is a 170-bed, full-service, acute-care facility owned by Jackson County Health Care Authority. JCHCA also owns and operates urgent care facilities and long-term care, specialty practices, labs and rehab facilities.

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Jackson County also is home to Northeast Alabama Community College, located on the Jackson/DeKalb County state line. Facilities in the county include salon/spa management and truck driving programs in Scottsboro.


Diversified manufacturing

Jackson County’s top industrial manufacturers also include those who make commercial refrigeration units, store fixtures, paperboard, heaters and gypsum board. Recent industry announcements include companies that make engineered plastics, guard rails, metalworking and more.


Marshall County

Poultry processing/food production

The largest manufacturing 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 is No. 1 in the state in processing poultry and No. 2 in producing poultry for processing. The county recently landed a new company, Custom Cuts, which processes meats.



Tourism is a big draw here, from the standpoint of quality of life for residents and visitors, and for economic development. 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. Completing its third year on the national boat racing circuit in 2021, 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, Patrick Lawler is developing City Harbor, which will include retail, entertainment and condos. And the cities of Albertville and Boaz have major recreation projects in progress, designed to attract more sports travel while offering amenities for residents.


Automotive suppliers/diversified manufacturing

Thanks to nearby automotive assembly plants, Marshall County has grown significantly in the automotive sector. Key players 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.


Health care/higher education 

The impact of having two hospitals in Marshall County is enormous financially. The economic impact from Marshall Medical Centers is more than $343 million. With 1,428 employees, Marshall Medical generates 3,048 jobs locally.

Marshall County also is home to Snead State Community College, which contributes more than $45 million annually to the local economy. The school, with campuses in Boaz and Arab, has about 129 employees.



Ace Aeronautics, at the Guntersville Airport since 2015, recently announced a $9 million expansion that will include aircraft painting. The company refurbishes and modifies U.S. military helicopters for other countries. The county has two jet-capable airports, Guntersville and Albertville, which are undergoing major improvements.

The Children’s Place Distribution Center in Fort Payne ships out children’s merchandise.

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. The hosiery industry — a major economic engine here before offshoring — is still represented in DeKalb County, which retains several hosiery manufacturers. And distribution centers also are major sectors in the county.



With DeSoto and Little River Canyon state parks, summer camps that host more than 12,000 children each summer, Cloudmont ski resort and other major attractions, the county is a tourism hotspot.

Fort Payne is also home to the Boom Days Fest, a popular music festival. The picturesque town of Mentone, with its arts presence and the oldest hotel in the state, attracts both visitors and retirees.



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


Health care/higher education

DeKalb Regional Medical Center, with 450 employees, generates $29 million yearly in wages and benefits, pays $3.6 million in taxes and provides more than $20 million in uncompensated care.

Northeast Alabama Community College, with its main campus in Rainsville, is one of the largest employers, also. With a total enrollment of 2,884 and 370 employees, NACC is a major provider of higher education, career and technical programs, degrees and certificates.


Cherokee County


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

Recently, Anniston-based Greenway Plants opened a new location in Centre to grow groundcover perennials. The company provides plants for large retail stores.



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, hiking, hunting, birdwatching, geocaching, a water park and much more are available here. One of the newest additions is the Pirates 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; Parkdale Yarn Mills, which spins cotton yarn; and Prince Minerals, which produces porcelain and enamel frit.


Higher education/health care

Gadsden State Cherokee, open since 2002, is located in a multi-level complex that offers an expanded list of courses for students who want to earn an associate degree and transfer to a four-year college. It also houses an Economic Development Center, an arena, a conference room, meeting rooms and some offices of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce.

The total economic impact of Floyd Cherokee Medical Center on the local and state economy is more than $29.13 million, according to hospital totals and multipliers provided by the Alabama Hospital Association. Cherokee Medical Center has more than 70 full-time employees and provides approximately $4 million in uncompensated care. Cherokee Medical Center also has direct expenditures of more than $14.7 million.


Centre-Piedmont-Cherokee County Regional Airport

The airport is currently adding a taxiway and hangars, with additional improvements in progress that are geared to increase economic development.


Business Briefs:

Jackson County 

October 2021: Highlands Medical Center in Scottsboro became an affiliate of the Huntsville Hospital System. Jackson County Health Care Authority will continue as an advisory board.

September 2021: ETI, which makes guard rails, purchases a building in Section for manufacturing, with plans for 50 employees.

September 2021: Google’s $600 million data center in Jackson County is fully operational with more than 100 jobs on site, including full-time and contractor roles. Google broke ground on the center in April 2018.

September 2021: Polymer Industries in Henegar announces a $21 million investment and 20 new jobs. The company makes engineered plastics and high-performance materials for a variety of uses.

September 2021: The Scottsboro Municipal Airport continues to acquire property surrounding the airport for potential economic development and future expansion. The airport has been awarded $1.3 million in recent years for upgrades.

August 2021: CFD Research, which provides innovative solutions for the aerospace, life sciences and other industries, opens its Joel B. Everett Engineering Test Center in the Jackson County Industrial Park in Hollywood. CFD invested $1 million and added 10 jobs.

January 2021: Pentecom Data Solutions, a technical data consulting and conversion company based in Texas, opens a location in Scottsboro, with 10 new jobs and $100,000 in investment.

September 2020: Taylor Manufacturing in Stevenson announces a $2.6 million expansion and 10 new jobs. The company provides full-service metalworking for a variety of industries.

August 2020: WestRock, the largest corrugating medium mill in North America, announces a $14.9 million expansion at its Stevenson paper mill.


Marshall County

March 2021: Automotive supplier Newman Technology announced a new $22 million expansion in Albertville with plans to add 100 jobs.

November 2020:  Ace Aeronautics LLC announces a $9 million expansion with 15 new jobs at the Guntersville Municipal Airport. The company added an aircraft paint booth, media blast facility and a 40,000-square-foot hangar.

July 2020: TS Tech Alabama LLC in Boaz announces a $4 million expansion with 50 new jobs. The company is a global supplier of automotive seats and interiors.

April 2020: Master Extrusion LLC, an affiliate of ColorMasters LLC, announces a $102 million expansion with 210 jobs in Albertville and at its warehouse in Boaz.

April 2020: Kappler Inc., a protective clothing manufacturer in Guntersville, announces a $6 million expansion with 60 added jobs.

April 2019: Custom Cuts Solutions opened in Albertville, creating 300 jobs. Custom Cuts processes poultry, pork, beef and turkey.

Environmental Solutions Group builds Heil garbage trucks.

DeKalb County

May 2021: Plastic fabricator Plasman Corp. LLC in Fort Payne announces a $6.4 million expansion.

April 2021: The Heil Co., dba Environmental Solutions Group, in Fort Payne announces a $42.3 million expansion. The company makes commercial waste hauler vehicles and products.

March 2021: Artemis Shielding, a Fort Payne company, recently announced its Radiation Shielding Material was used in a February trip to the International Space Station. The material was requested by Alpha Space Test & Research Alliance to protect its testing equipment.

March 2021: Nucor Corp., dba Vulcraft Alabama, announces a $4.8 million expansion with 50 added jobs, its second expansion in two years.

August 2020: Kudzu Millwork, a manufacturer of All Temp Windows, breaks ground for a 40,000-square-foot facility in Fort Payne.


Cherokee County

September 2021: The Centre-Piedmont-Cherokee County Regional Airport is adding a taxiway, hangars and other improvements.

July 2021: Atrium Health and Floyd Health System finalize a strategic combination that brings Floyd’s facilities, including Cherokee Medical Center, into Charlotte-based Atrium. In return, Atrium has pledged $650 million in capital for Floyd facilities over the next decade.

May 2021: Pirates Bay Water Park opens at Chestnut Bay Resort in Leesburg on Weiss Lake.

February 2020: Greenway Plants, based in Anniston, opens a new location in Centre in Cherokee County to grow groundcover perennials. Greenway provides plants for large retail stores.

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