Automotive manufacturing suppliers
The automotive industry continues to be an important economic engine in Tallapoosa and Chambers counties. Situated in the middle of the triangle of Kia in nearby West Point, Georgia; Hyundai in Montgomery; and Honda in Talladega County, the two counties are a hub of Tier 1 suppliers.
Alexander City is currently home to several auto suppliers, including C&J Tech, Korens USA and the county’s largest employer, SL Alabama. Further southeast in the county, the city of Dadeville is home to two additional Hyundai and Kia Tier I suppliers, Sejin America and KwangSung America.
The Chambers County Industrial Park in Cusseta also is home to key automotive suppliers, among them metal stamper AJIN USA, Wooshin USA, Daedong Hi-Lex of America, SaeHaeSung Alabama Inc., Leehan America and Kmin USA Inc.
Expanding the automotive influence, Westwater Resources subsidiary Alabama Graphite is building a graphite processing plant just over the county line in Coosa County, bringing the region into play in the EV battery supply chain. Alexander City Utilities services the Lake Martin Area Industrial Park, where the plant is being built.
Russell Lands and the entire Lake Martin area are booming. Always a popular place to live, it has seen even stronger demand since the start of the pandemic.
Russell Lands is a major economic engine in the area, providing much of Tallapoosa County’s total ad valorem tax yearly. In the newest luxury residential development underway, The Heritage, most of the first collection of lots are already sold.
“We’re at the point where we knew we had to think where else we could provide neighborhoods and amenities,” says Steve Arnberg, vice president of real estate. “The location for The Heritage is close to many community amenities and city services, which is really a plus for us.”
The 1,500-acre gated neighborhood is on 12 miles of shoreline and features about 240 waterfront homesites with panoramic lake views and 130 wooded interior lots.
The Heritage is based around a Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw-designed Wicker Point Golf Club, which should be completed in fall 2023.
“We needed more golf opportunities,” says Roger Holliday, vice president of Russell Lands. “Our Willow Point golf club is reaching capacity. It’s likely the first and only Coore & Crenshaw-designed course in Alabama. Their courses are built around the world.”
Another signature amenity will be The Benjamin Lake Club, a resident-owned facility with saline pool, grill, eight tennis courts and tennis pro shop and eight pickleball courts, plus an event lawn, fitness center, fire pits, community dock and waterfront area. This new neighborhood also has been annexed into Alexander City.
The communities offer an array of activities, such as Christmas at Crossroads, a run to benefit the schools, boating safety courses and music festivals.
All the Russell Lands neighborhoods include amenities like golf, marinas, equestrian trails and shops. Beyond its residential developments, the company also offers home improvement, building supply and décor shops.
Three hospitals in the two counties, along with satellite clinics and rehab care, makes health care a major driver in both counties. These hospitals are among the largest employers in the counties.
Russell Medical in Alexander City, a member of the UAB Health System, broke ground on a multi-facility expansion made possible by a $25 million donation by local philanthropists Ben and Luanne Russell. The Russell Legacy Project will consist of multiple development phases centered on geriatric medicine and enhanced opportunities for senior citizens. Phase 1 includes the development of a senior living community, Sterling Gate, as well as the Benjamin Russell Center for Advanced Care.
On the southern end of Tallapoosa County, Lake Martin Community Hospital in Dadeville has 46 beds and employs more than 200.
And in Chambers County, EAMC-Lanier Hospital in Valley recently opened a 20-bed geriatric psychiatric unit and an outpatient ambulatory surgery center.
Central Alabama’s main campus is in Alexander City with three additional locations in Childersburg, Talladega and Prattville. Southern Union State Community College has a location in Valley in Chambers County, along with locations in Wadley and Opelika.
Both colleges offer dual enrollment for high school students, academic transfer programs, adult education and an array of workforce development programs.
Each county boasts an airport — T.C. Russell Field in Alexander City in Tallapoosa County and Lanett Municipal Airport in Chambers County.
Up and Coming Sectors
In Tallapoosa County, which already has a high percentage of automotive suppliers, the addition of Alabama Graphite Products, a $202 million graphite processing plant will open the door to more battery production and products related to electric vehicles.
And in Chambers County, where the city of Valley has been certified as an ideal site for companies in the food and beverage industry and where John Soules Foods recently opened, that sector is set to expand.
Also in Chambers County, Holland Homes partnered with the city of Valley, economic developers and Alabama Power to create the first rural smart neighborhood, a multi-phase project that will include homes, commercial and recreational components.
September 2022: Wayne Davis Concrete opens its new facility in Lanett. The company has been operating ready mix concrete facilities for more than 50 years and has 18 facilities across Alabama and Georgia.
September 2022: The city of Valley in Chambers County has been certified as an ideal location for companies in the food and beverage industry. The Chambers County Development Authority hired Garner Economics LLC and CDG Engineers for the certification.
September 2022: East Alabama Medical Center-Lanier in Chambers County opens a 20-bed geriatric psychiatric unit, providing inpatient care.
August 2022: John Soules Foods in Valley announces it will invest $81 million to complete its final three production lines. The company has invested more than $300 million in the area. Employment is expected to top 500.
July 2022: Spun yarn maker Parkdale Mills, which has 29 plants in the U.S., Mexico and South America, closes its Alexander City plant, among others.
June 2022: The city of LaFayette is designated as a Main Street Alabama Community.
May 2022: The Chambers County Development Authority, which owns the former Lanett Mill and Bluffton Facility that was used for West Point Stevens dye work and bleachery, secured funds for site clean up from the EPA Target Brownfield Assessment Program.
April 2022: Ground is broken for Alabama Graphite Products, a $202 million graphite processing plant in nearby Coosa County in an industrial park owned by the city of Alexander City in Tallapoosa County. The plant is the first of its kind in the U.S. and will provide a component for electric vehicle batteries. It is expected to employ at least 100 people.
March 2022: AJIN USA, a Tier 1 automotive supplier for Kia and Hyundai located in Cusetta in Chambers County, invests $12 million and adds 26 jobs. The firm invested $20 million the previous March.
February 2022: Malibu Electronics acquires AmTech in Alexander City. The company assembles electronic wiring harnesses for powerboats.
September 2021: Chambers County is chosen to participate in the Rural Innovation Initiative, a program to nurture tech entrepreneurship.
August 2021: KMIN USA, an automotive supplier, invests $20 million in a building expansion and adds 50 jobs.
June 2021: After a fire in April 2021, East Alabama Lumber in Lafayette invested about $20 million to rebuild its mill and add back 33 jobs.
June 2021: Daedong Hi-Lex of America, an automotive supplier, invests $14.9 million in a building expansion and adds 45 jobs.
March 2021: Russell Lands announces plans for a new golf course to be designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.
March 2021: West Fraser (formerly Norbord), a manufacturer of OSB wood products in Lanett, invests $45 million in new machinery for its facility and a building expansion.
March 2021: Russell Lands announces the construction of a Coore & Crenshaw-designed golf course, Wicker Point, which is the centerpiece for Lake Martin’s newest residential development, The Heritage. The golf course is the first in the state designed by famed architect Bill Coore and golf legend Ben Crenshaw.
January 2021: Knauf Insulation invests $27 million in a new furnace for its Lanett facility.
This article appears in the December 2022 issue of Business Alabama.