The big announcement at the Chambers County Development Authority’s annual Existing Industry Luncheon and Manufacturer of the Year Award Presentation last week was the return of Knauf Insulation to the county. There was no award presented to the Manufacturer of the Year at the event, instead an excited Valerie Gray, the CCDA’s Executive Director, told the large crowd of local business leaders that a company that ceased operation in 2011 would return.
“It is my pleasure to introduce Mr. Jon Pereira, Ms. Natalie Gully and Mr. Tony Bryant, all of Knauf Insulation,” Gray said. “Today, April 17, Knauf Insulation has made the decision to restart their Lanett plant in 2013. Knauf will be investing over $20 million in capital and creating 90 jobs with potential for more growth. Please join me and (CCDA Board) President Bobby Williams in welcoming Knauf Insulation back to Lanett, Chambers County, Alabama.
“An awful lot of hard work went into the project. It was a business decision they had to make and we had to compete for them. They could have gone anywhere in the U.S. and been welcomed with incentives by communities that are starving for new jobs.”
The announcement was greeted with big applause from the crowd, and Grey added, “Today is one of those days an economic developer will never forget. This is unbelievably great news for the citizens of our great county.”
Getting Knauf back to Chambers County was an effort that the CCDA had been working on for several months. The company ceased operations in Lanett in June of 2011 after 23 years in the area. They will return to their former site and hope to be operational by November of this year. Knauf will be working with AIDT to hire members for their team.
“The work force here is super,” Pereira, the senior vice president of technical services for Knauf, said to the audience. “We’re very happy to be back in Chambers County.”
In addition to the big announcement, numerous local businesses were recognized by the CCDA for their contributions to the area. Jim Byard, Jr., the director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, delivered the keynote address at the luncheon.
Byard commended Gray and the CCDA for the return of Knauf as well as their hard work over the past decade. He noted that there were zero jobs in the Cusseta Industrial Park in 2006 and today there are more than 1,000.
Byard also talked about the state’s Department of Economic and Community Affairs, the branch that is responsible for administering many of the state’s grant programs.
The event concluded with a few brief remarks from Chambers County Commission Chair Debbie Wood, who emotionally talked about the return of Knauf and the economic growth in the county over the past few years.