At the beginning of each year, the Chambers County Development Authority addresses each of their supporting governmental partners to provide an update and comprehensive review of the activities and growth that has taken place in Chambers County the previous calendar year. CCDA staff members Valerie Gray, Kimberly Carter and Chris Busby provide these reports to the Chambers County Commission, the Cities of Valley, Lanett, and LaFayette and the Towns of Five Points, Cusseta and Waverly.
As part of the annual report, the CCDA conveyed several of the many successes that occurred in 2016. Listed here is a synopsis of that report:
• In 2016, $171,353,373 in capital investments were announced in Chambers County and 119 new jobs will be created as a result. These investments resulted from four new industries and three existing industry expansions.
• The investments from these announcements and expansions will result in Chambers County and Lanett City Schools receiving over $3,000,000 in funding from tax revenues.
• Currently, the CCDA is working 31 active projects, including 19 industrial, 6 retail and 6 commercial.
• Developing new product for marketing to companies continues to be a top priority for the CCDA. One of the highlights of 2016 was the City of Valley’s purchase of nearly 400 acres of land to develop the Valley Industrial Park. The Park also received the coveted AdvantageSite designation in 2016.
• Chambers County continued to post strong employment figures in 2016. The most recent unemployment rate statistics released for the state show that Chambers County is at 5.0 percent, which ranks 55th out of Alabama’s 67 counties.
• There was significant improvements in infrastructure made in the County’s Industrial Parks this past year. In 2016, the Huguley Industrial Park was completely repaved for the first time in 20 years. This was done in conjunction with the Chambers County Commission and Highway Department using money from the County 106 Fund, which is designated to sustain and promote economic development infrastructure within the county. Additionally, a new sign was constructed at the Huguley Park, and plans are underway for the placement of a similar sign at the Chambers County Industrial Park in Cusseta.
• The CCDA’s Small Business Grant program continued to make an impact throughout 2016 and to date, 16 businesses have received grants totaling $65,026.81.
• The CCDA’s Weekly Jobs Blast email and resume database, administered by Kimberly Carter and intern Samantha Pigg, has been tremendously successful, helping over 100 individuals find employment in 2016.
• In addressing one of the biggest concerns of citizens, the CCDA, Cities of Lanett and Valley, Chambers County Commission, and local legislative delegation formed a Mills Committee to give guidance and expertise into strategically cleaning the derelict mill sites in the county. Recently, the CCDA, Lanett and County Commission have been working to get the Lanett Mill site cleaned and ready for development.
• The CCDA is currently working with the City of Lanett to help develop a new, innovative website for the city.
• The CCDA is actively engaged in the development of a new countywide Business Incubator that will serve as a resource for the development and success of existing and new small businesses and entrepreneurs.
• The staff of the CCDA received several honors throughout 2016. Executive Director Valerie Gray was chosen to participate in Leadership of Alabama, a statewide nonprofit organization which each year brings together a class of 50-60 participants and prepares Alabama to move vigorously into the 21st century. Gray was also inducted into Impact Alabama, a small group of some of Alabama’s key economic developers who meet each quarter for a discussion about important issues facing our state. Kimberly Carter was named to Board of the Economic Development Association of Alabama’s Young Professionals organization, while Chris Busby was selected from state economic development professionals to attend the inaugural University of Alabama Intensive Economic Development Honors Program.
• Other notable activities that took place in 2016 included an Employee Appreciation Luncheon for Norbord and C&C Fabrication, and working with the Chambers County Commission and City of LaFayette to donate land to Hosanna Home for the construction of new homes for the residents.
“We always get excited when we announce new industries, but what is just as exciting is that here again we find our cities and county announcing the growth and expansion of our existing industries,” CCDA Executive Director Valerie Gray said. “As we continue with our growth it is always reassuring to know that our cities and county are committed to economic development and diversification for our area.”
“The successes realized in Chambers County in 2016 came because of the unwavering cooperation between the CCDA and all of our governmental partners,” said CCDA Board President Bobby Williams. “Without this support and teamwork, Chambers County would not have seen the profound growth that so many of our neighboring rural communities have been lacking. We at the CCDA are extremely appreciative of the county-wide efforts to support our continued industrial, commercial and retail recruitment that drives Chambers County forward.”