Jackson County works to grow existing industry, draw in businesses

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JACKSON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) -- Jackson County economic development officials are working to draw industry to the area, and grow existing companies.

Jackson County officials say existing industry is the backbone of the area. "We do work to recruit new industry, but our existing industry provides us with 70 to 80 percent of our new jobs every year," Jackson County Economic Development Authority Vice President Shelia Shepard says.

Shepard says with that in mind the EDA is actively working to help those industries grow. "We do offer quite a few services to our existing industry," Shepard says, "We will work with them on their expansions, we can offer them many of the same incentives that a new that a new company gets when they come to the area."

Shepard says partnering with entities across the county, workforce development and leadership training are among some of the tools offered to existing industries.

County leaders say several are investing funds to help with that growth. "So when they're investing millions of dollars in the community, that's growth," Shepard says, "Even though it may not be many jobs today, it adds for many opportunities down the road."

EDA officials say the current efforts by both the county and the industries ultimately impact Jackson County communities. "When you grow existing industries you have other jobs available in the community. They spend money here, and it just helps the whole community and the whole county grow," Shepard says.

The county is also focusing on bringing in companies to the area.

Jackson County has an industrial park in Hollywood. "We have a spec building there that is 66 thousand square feet, that we have, that the county owns, and we are marketing that as a good site for perspective manufacturing," Shepard says.

The building was built some years ago. "Research shows that most companies that are looking for a site to locate prefer an existing building," Shepard says.

The building has received a lot of attention. Shepard says companies located to the county, but in a different location, after visiting the building.

Officials say a company is currently looking at the space.

Shepard says they're also actively putting the building in the spotlight. "We market it through the state of Alabama, through TVA, through our regional marketing groups, through our economic development groups,"

They're also working to bring more businesses to the adjacent industrial park, which is certified as an advantage site. Essentially that means the site is ready to build on.

Officials say both the building and the site provide an avenue for future companies to locate to Jackson County, and it's a constant work in progress to recruit them.