Filling vacant industry buildings isn’t an easy process; it takes time

Northeast Alabama
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GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. - More than 300 workers are looking for new jobs as Beaulieau America prepares to shut down part of its Jackson County plant in Bridgeport. Meanwhile, in neighboring Marshall County, officials are working to fill two vacant industry buildings left behind in similar situations.

The Pilgrim's plant in Boaz shut its doors nearly three years ago. The Kennametal plant in Grant closed just over a year ago. Both situations left vacant buildings waiting for new opportunities, but making those opportunities come to fruition is a process. “The process when you have industries that shut down, take Pilgrim's Pride or Kennametal in Grant, it doesn't happen overnight," Marshall County Economic Development Council President Matt Arnold said.

Arnold says the process of recruiting a company takes time. "Pilgrim's is particularly challenging, because of the nature of a poultry facility," Arnold explained, "It's really built for one thing and that's poultry."

Arnold adds the Kennametal site is different, but there are several factors and criteria that companies look for and creating that perfect fit isn't always the case.

Marshall County economic development officials say the key aspect in this process is to keep those vacant industry buildings in the spotlight, and that's a daily job.

"For every new industry we land in Marshall County we've probably submitted 100 RFIs, or Requests For Information, to various different consultants, the Alabama Department of Commerce, or any of our other partners like TVA," Arnold explained.

Getting those sites and buildings noticed is an ongoing step that's crucial in filling them.

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