Alabama Corporate Moves

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Royal Tech, Cash Acme Open Cullman Facilities

Two major industrial projects are bringing hundreds of new jobs to the Cullman, AL area.

Cash Acme broke ground late last year on a new distribution plant in Cullman, a move that should create up to 100 jobs in 2011.

Michigan-based Royal Technologies, a plastic molding injection company, also expanded into Cullman in 2010.

The new 200,000-square-foot Royal Technologies plant is located at the corner of Alabama Highways 157 and 278, and will function as a manufacturing facility for injection molding, urethane foam and light assembly parts for office furniture and interior trim for automobiles. The project was first announced in February 2009, and construction was completed a few months ago.

Royal Technologies president Jim Vander Kolk told the Cullman Times he was impressed by the efficiency of the planning and construction for the company’s new manufacturing facility in Alabama.

“Honestly, we had a lot of options when we were in the process of looking for somewhere in the south to expand to,” Vander Kolk said. “We made the decision to come here in the fall of 2008, and I’m happy to say every day that has gone by has confirmed we made the right call. Our experience with local government on every level has been excellent and exactly what we were promised coming in.”

Royal Technologies manufactures injection molding, urethane foam and light assembly parts for office furniture and interior trim for automobiles.

The new facility opened with 85 employees. Within a year, Vander Kolk said that number could rise to around 200. The company could employ more than 300 people within two years, according to projections released when the plant was announced last year.

“This building is built for the needs of today, but we do plan to grow,” Vander Kolk said Wednesday, while touring the site. “If we work hard, are honest, and do a good job, we plan to add a lot of new jobs. We’re working hard to embrace this community and be a lasting part of Cullman and Cullman County.”

Throughout the construction process for the new plant, Royal Technologies facilities director Doug Oosterbaan said the company made a concerted effort to use local contractors from the Cullman area.

“We’ve used Apel Steel, Manning Construction, Goss Electric, Hardy Mechanical and other local companies,” he said. “They have been really great to work with.”

“We are especially grateful to have been selected by a quality company like Royal Technologies for their southeast operation.” Cullman Economic Development Agency Director Peggy Smith said.

Smith also noted the company’s $30 million five-year investment for the project should create some lasting, positive effects in Cullman County.

“They’ll be working with local businesses, increasing our tax base, providing critical additional revenue for our schools and much needed jobs for our citizens,” she said. “The money they’re investing is going to turn over so much that people sometimes just don’t see how much of an impact it has on the area.”

The company has teamed up with the Alabama Career Center and Wallace State in Hanceville to ensure there are trained, local employees available when the plant is ready to open.

“We have started doing a tool and die program, and their company uses a lot of skills developed through that program,” Wallace State dean of technical education Dr. Philip Cleveland said. “They have also offered to partner with us as an industry to provide some die to use for training purposes for the program. We’re really excited and think this will be a great partnership.”

Some job placement for the company will also take place through the Alabama Career Center, located on the college campus.

“We’ll be working with them hand in hand to hopefully help with getting highly qualified applicants in there,” Cleveland said. “We’re all working hard to provide proper workforce programs and placement.”

Royal Technologies was founded in 1987 and operates three other manufacturing locations, as well as a corporate center.

Dollar General Plans Distribution Center in Bessemer

Dollar General Corp. plans to build a 1-million-square-foot distribution center in Bessemer, AL, creating 650 jobs.

The new $60 million facility will be built on a 106-acre site owned by USS Real Estate at Alabama 150 and Lakeshore Parkway. The facility will have 550 jobs working in the large warehouse and offices with another 100 dedicated trucker jobs.

A spokeswoman with Goodlettsville, TN-based Dollar General said its 10th center is needed to support the retailer’s rapid growth.

“We believe the Birmingham region is a great fit for our needs,” said Tawn Earnest, senior director of corporate communications. “We already serve shoppers in this region with more than 100 neighborhood stores, and we have supported Alabama organizations and schools through grants totaling $380,000 in 2010 alone.”

Dollar General reportedly negotiated incentives including, $550,000 in occupational tax refunds; 10 years of property tax abatements (except for the portion earmarked for education); Sales and use tax abatements during the construction phase; and capping permit fees at $150,000.

The state approved a new $1.4 million access road for the property. “Whenever you have a development that is going to encompass 106 acres, there is going to be a lot of spinoff,” Bessemer Mayor Ken Gulley said.

In addition to state, county and city officials, economic developers at the Alabama Development Office as well as officials with Alabama Power Co., Alagasco and AT&T Alabama were involved in the recruitment of Dollar General to the metro area.

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