Industrial development in Jasper was the topic of discussion Wednesday as a top official with Alabama Power toured several areas of progress.
Mark Crews, vice president of the western division of Alabama Power, said he was impressed with the level of teamwork here in Jasper and Walker County when it comes to economic and industrial development projects.
“You are on the right track by reaching out and telling your story. You have a lot of great things to sell here that other folks would die for,” Crews said following a brief presentation over lunch and an hour tour of the Jasper Industrial Park, Bevill Industrial Park and I-22/Industrial Boulevard interchange.
David O’Mary, chairman of the 18-member Jasper Industrial Development Board (JIDB), invited Crews to Jasper for the one-on-one informational and goodwill visit.
“Our belief is that if enough people hear our story, understand our people and understand our resources, we’ll attract industry,” O’Mary said during lunch at the Community Health Systems Building in Jasper.
Also attending Wednesday’s industrial development presentation were Terry Gurganus, vice chair of the JIDB, David Knight, director of the Walker County Development Authority, and Susan McKinney of Alabama Power’s Jasper office.
During the lunch presentation, Knight highlighted industrial growth at the 170-acre Bevill Industrial Park. In 2013, there were only three structures. Today, there are 15 structures, including the new 150,000-square-foot HTNA facility that opened in late 2013.
During the site tour, the delegation visited the Cracker Barrel construction site and location of a new Microtel Inn just off the I-22/Industrial Boulevard interchange across from Love’s Truck Stop.
They spent considerable time at the 405-acre Jasper Industrial Park off White House Road. The site features a graded 50-acre parcel of land. A nearby tract of land will be cleared soon for a new 50,000-square-foot spec building.
The Jasper Industrial Development Board also owns a 225-acre tract of developable land just off Industrial Boulevard and south of Bevill Industrial Park. This multi-use site is for residential, commercial and industrial growth, O’Mary noted.
“We’ve had some good things happen to our community, one of which is I-22,” O’Mary said. “I like to refer to it as the gateway to the East Coast and to the West Coast.”
That accessibility is one of the key ingredients to industrial growth in Jasper and Walker County, said Crews.
“When I look at my area (western Alabama), the places that I can recruit to are Tuscaloosa and Jasper,” he said.
He advised, “It’s not a sprint. You can’t get frustrated when it doesn’t come your way in your time. Keep tickling. Show up when others don’t.”