Spotlight: Pike, Barbour & Bullock counties

These southeastern Wiregrass counties are home to industries including agriculture, aerospace, plastics, metals and more

Places like Yoholo Micco Trail provide recreation to residents and visitors alike. Photo by Peter Pauley Photography.

Pike, Barbour and Bullock counties in southeast Alabama are part of the Wiregrass region of the state. It’s a region with bountiful natural resources, strong communities and diverse economic sectors.

Strong sectors in these counties include agriculture, aerospace and aviation, higher education, health care, marine electronics, trucking, distribution, plastics, recycling and metals. And many of those sectors are growing.

In Pike County, workers at Lockheed Martin’s Pike County Operations in Troy were visited by President Joe Biden to thank them for their key role in helping the U.S. help Ukraine. Recently expanded, the facility makes, assembles and stores the Javelin missile and others. And Kimber Manufacturing, a firearms company, moved its production facility and corporate headquarters to Troy, along with hundreds of jobs.

Recruitment of these and other companies is a priority, says Chase Cobb, president of the Pike County Economic Development Corp. “Pike County has a remarkably diverse business and industrial community with companies like Lockheed Martin, KW Plastics, Sanders Lead, Rex Lumber, and most recently Kimber Firearms, just to name a few,” Cobb says. “When it comes to our industrial recruitment efforts, our philosophy is fairly simple — be proactive in supporting our existing industries and be selective in recruiting industries that complement our long-standing industrial partners.”

Pike County also is home to Troy University, its largest employer.

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Eufaula, in Barbour County, is home to a number of historic homes, including Shorter Mansion. Photo by Peter Pauley Photography.

Barbour County recently welcomed a major announcement with Operation Yellowhammer Connect. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs announced the $100 million project to install “middle mile” fiber from Dothan to Eufaula and Midway. The project will position the eastern Wiregrass area to be more competitive for internet service providers, data warehouses and other high-tech businesses.

The county also has had two major expansions with new jobs from Johnson Marine Electronics Outdoors, makers of fishing electronics. And wood products companies also have expanded.

“Barbour County is interested in attracting timber and wood fiber producers, particularly wood pellet mills to take advantage of commercial barge transportation on the Chattahoochee River,” says Philip Clayton, director of economic development for the Eufaula Barbour County Chamber of Commerce. “Similarly, food and beverage processing to take advantage of the abundant water source of the Chattahoochee. We are also interested in advanced manufacturing to take advantage of the tremendous bandwidth in Barbour County provided by Operation Yellowhammer Connect.”

Bonnie Plants recently expanded its greenhouse facilities.

In Bullock County, Bonnie Plants, the nation’s largest grower of vegetable and herb plants for home gardens, unveiled a multi-million expansion and upgrade of its greenhouse facilities and added jobs.

The county also has some automotive suppliers and hopes to add more. Wayne Farms, the largest employer in the county, has purchased two adjacent buildings to house its operations for a future project.

“The Bullock County Development Authority works hand in hand with our Bullock County Career Technical centers, along with Central Alabama Works, to provide workforce development initiatives to Bullock County,” says David Padgett, economic development director for the Bullock County Economic Development Authority. “We have all partnered with Wallace Community College, Sparks Campus in Eufaula and brought the first adult education classes (CAN Program) taught in Bullock County in eight years.

“We are focusing our efforts on tier suppliers to Wayne Farms and Bonnie Plants. We also are working toward marketing our airport and adjoining properties to attract aeronautical business and industries.”

All of the counties are working on their own communities, sprucing up downtowns and parks, building splash pads and attracting hotels, retail and other amenities for residents and visitors.

As Lake Eufaula is considered the “Bass Capital of the World” and the site of several tournaments, the city of Eufaula is working to improve facilities and attractions. At its popular Lakepoint State Park, a new off-road vehicle course has opened.

School systems also are heavily involved in dual enrollment with colleges and workforce development and are active in partnerships with both higher education and local industry to ensure there are many jobs available for high school students and adult learners.

Lori Chandler Pruitt is a Birmingham-based freelance writer for Business Alabama.

For more on Pike, Barbour & Bullock counties, see the links below:

In Focus

Economic Engines

Health Care

Higher Education

Movers & Shapers

Community Development

Culture & Recreation

This story appears in the September 2022 issue of Business Alabama magazine.

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