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Expansions to Alabama Industrial Projects Ahead in Florence, Auburn

Thu June 15, 2023 - Southeast Edition #13
Made in Alabama & Opelika-Auburn News

The Southwire Florence Plant was acquired from Essex in 2006 to support the company’s production of commercial and residential building wire. The 300,000 sq. ft. campus has grown over time, and this expansion will include approximately 340,000 sq. ft. of added space for new equipment. (Southwire photo)
The Southwire Florence Plant was acquired from Essex in 2006 to support the company’s production of commercial and residential building wire. The 300,000 sq. ft. campus has grown over time, and this expansion will include approximately 340,000 sq. ft. of added space for new equipment. (Southwire photo)

As part of ongoing modernization efforts, Southwire, one of North America's largest wire and cable producers, announced plans June 9 for an expansion of its manufacturing campus in Florence, Ala., that is expected to increase production capacity by 30 percent and create approximately 120 jobs.

"At Southwire, we're making a multi-year investment of more than a billion dollars to integrate newer and better equipment, systems and technology into our operations to increase efficiency, enhance competitiveness and ensure the operational capability and capacity to support our strategic growth," said Rich Stinson, Southwire's president and CEO. "The Florence expansion is a testament to those efforts."

Made in Alabama, the online news site of the Alabama Department of Commerce, reported that state officials have heartily welcomed the growth project from Southwire, which also has a facility in Heflin. The company's statewide workforce currently exceeds 625.

"Southwire's investment project will create good-paying jobs in Florence while also enhancing the facility's competitiveness and solidifying its future in the community," said Greg Canfield, secretary of the state Department of Commerce. "Southwire is a world-class company and a great corporate partner at the state and local level. We are thrilled to see them grow and thrive in the Shoals area."

Growth Opportunities

The Southwire Florence Plant was acquired from Essex in 2006 to support the company's production of commercial and residential building wire. The 300,000-sq.-ft. campus has grown over time, and the latest expansion will include about 340,000 sq. ft. more capacity for new equipment.

"Southwire is committed to remain generationally sustainable for the next 100 years and beyond and be an employer of choice, and we look forward to the growth opportunities that this expansion will bring to our company," explained Norman Adkins, Southwire's COO and president of wire and cable for the manufacturer.

In addition to more operating space and new equipment, the expansion will include renovating the existing building to enhance the team-member experience, including locker rooms, training space and an outdoor picnic and activity area.

"This investment will allow us to better service our customers safely and efficiently, and the Florence team and I are very excited about the expansion and what it means for the future," said Brian Davis, the plant's manager.

The investments and upgrades will effectively streamline Southwire's commercial and residential building wire efforts, complement existing products and emphasize the facility's culture and labor pool, according to Made in Alabama.

Southwire's Local Impact Growing in Southeast

For more than 70 years, Carrollton, Ga.-based Southwire has been delivering power responsibly to customers across the globe. A leader in the multibillion-dollar North American market, the company is enhancing its proven legacy, trusted reputation and longstanding, disciplined financial management by building upon its strengths to reach sustainable, strategic growth.

"Tennessee Valley Authority [TVA] and City of Florence Utilities congratulates Southwire on its decision to expand operations and create new job opportunities in Florence," said John Bradley, TVA senior vice president of economic development. "It's always an exciting day when we can celebrate a company's commitment to continued growth in the region. We are proud to partner with Shoals Economic Development Authority [EDA] to support companies like Southwire and look forward to its continued business success in the region."

Construction at the Florence campus is expected to begin this quarter and should be finished in 2025.

Auburn to See Coca-Cola, Donghee Alabama Expansions

Further south, two new industrial developments will bring a combined capital investment of nearly $100 million to the Alabama plains, the Auburn City Council announced June 13 at its regular meeting.

The town council approved expansion projects at both the Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED at Auburn Technology Park, and for Donghee Alabama, an auto supplier, at Auburn Technology Park West.

Construction crews this year will build the new Coca-Cola distribution center at 511 West Veterans Blvd., close to where the new Mill Creek Data Center will be located when it comes to the area, according to the Opelika-Auburn News.

Coca-Cola's new 24,000-sq.-ft. facility is expected to open in 2025, according to Cassandra Mickens, its corporate communications manager. It will bring in $15 million in capital investment and 75 full-time jobs with an average annual salary of $60,500.

"This facility will consist of our sales operations, our distribution warehouse, our administration, and our fleet department with all of our trucks," she told the local news source.

The warehouse will distribute Coca-Cola branded beverages made at bottling plants throughout Alabama, and service the entire eastern part of the state.

Mickens explained that a new Auburn facility for the soft-drink maker came about after a tornado passed through the area in March, ripping the roof off the West Point Coca-Cola distribution center. Company employees from there will work at a temporary location in Auburn until the new facility is complete.

Coca-Cola plans to donate the damaged facility to the city of West Point.

"After that storm, the roof collapsed and the building was deemed inoperable," Mickens added. "Part of this move is [Coca-Cola] ensuring the safety and well-being of our associates."

In the case of Donghee Alabama, which makes electric vehicle battery cases, it will expand its two sites on Innovation Drive and Riley Street in Auburn with a capital investment of over $82 million and the creation of 100 new jobs.

The Opelika-Auburn New said there is no word yet on when that construction effort will begin.

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