Business and Industry
While Chilton County is a tourist destination for many stopping on their route along Interstate 65, it is also home to individuals striving to see the county flourish and grow.
The county is strategically located in the center of the state, and is considered roughly “halfway” between Birmingham and Montgomery on Interstate 65.
The area is bountiful in agriculture with varieties of peaches available during the summer months, but it is also home to many businesses and industries that continue to grow and attract others from around the world.
According to the county’s Industrial Development Authority’s executive director Whitney Barlow, there are many factors that go into creating a strong economic development setting, but location remains at the top of the list.
“We [Chilton County] are located in the center of the state and can capture almost 1/5 of Alabama’s population within an hour’s drive,” Barlow said. “This makes our county a prime location for economic growth both in advanced manufacturing, but also in other sectors of economic growth.”
Barlow said the county’s existing industry, as well as the quality of life, creates a strong foundation for sustained growth. Agriculture continues to remain the largest industry in the county, both in the forestry sector as well as production agriculture, Barlow said.
In terms of industry, the county’s largest employer currently is Adient, which continues to make strides in the automotive industry with 1 out of every 3 seats in the world of automobiles coming from an Adient facility.
“They supply an excellent quality of product to the automotive industry by producing over 25,000,000 seats a year in their global locations,” Barlow said. “The Adient Clanton plant employs 950 people and works to supply multiple automotive companies the precision and quality needed for their automobiles.”
Additional industries throughout the county that continue to create a strong foundation of employment and growth for the county, include O-Flex Southeast Anodizing, South Coast Paper, Stella Jones and West Frasier Lumber.
“We have experienced record number lows in unemployment in recent years throughout the state, which is a good and bad issue for our new and existing industries,” Barlow said. “While we are putting people to work, it is becoming more difficult to hire quality and trained workforce for our existing companies.”
The Chilton County Industrial Development Authority is committed to working with K-12, Jefferson State Community College, and statewide workforce initiatives to identify programs to implement in all sectors of education, according to Barlow.
“We want to create a pipeline for both our existing industries and new growth,” she said. “Working with all sectors to identify the needs and training deficiencies is a key to the formula of a strong local economy.”
Many of the county’s assets include St. Vincent’s Clanton location, Jefferson State Community College, a strong public education system, a cohesive government structure, and a strong infrastructure system.
Barlow acknowledges that while the industries are vital to the county’s economy, the quality of life and heartbeat of the community would be nonexistent without the small businesses throughout the area.
“These individuals are those who believe in Chilton County and create a part of the formula for substantial economic growth,” Barlow said. “The small business sector is what captures our sales tax and stops the leakage into our neighboring counties. They are the pipeline to our medical, education, industry, restaurants and government. It is the cornerstone of any small community and is a strong staple of ours.”
Peach Jam Jubilee - June 27, 2020