Center Point lands major manufacturing facility in former Meadowcraft building
CENTER POINT –At a 10 a.m. press conference at the Birmingham Business Alliance, it was confirmed that Center Point has landed a major manufacturing facility in the former Meadowcraft building just off Carson Road. With the announcement comes the promise of 750 new jobs.
Autocar, a manufacturer of heavy trucks headquartered in Haragstown, Ind., will open their first Alabama facility to build trucks for the waste industry. Autocar, LLC. chairman Andrew Taitz and president Jim Johnson were on hand for the announcement.
Knight, whose county commission district includes the Carson Road site, said the announcement was further confirmation that the county was back in business.
“After all we have been through over the past several years, it is refreshing to see Jefferson County back on its feet,” Knight said. “Auotcar is a major manufacturing company that will inspire growth in our area with its 750 new, well-paying jobs. In addition, we should see a multiplier effect when the suppliers for this company begin to locate in this area.”
The company is expected to invest about $120 million in the facility and produce jobs with an average wage of $58,000 annually before benefits, according to a 2016 story in The Trussville Tribune.
In June of 2016, the Jefferson County Commission approved $1.49 million for it’s part of an incentive package. At that time, county commissioner Joe Knight said the incentives could lead to what he called a “major manufacturing coup.”
The facility has more than one million square feet and has been vacant since the outdoor furniture manufacturer went bankrupt, with the exception of a three year occupation by Southern Comfort Conversions.
Working under the name “Project Sunrise,” Knight said several entities, including the city of Center Point, BBA and the state, have worked to build an incentive package to draw the nationally known manufacturer to Jefferson County. The city of Birmingham also “stepped up in a big way,” Knight said, helping to build the parking lot to accommodate the workers that will be required for full operation.
“Jefferson County is proud to take part in this venture and it is with great hope that we look forward to the future with the anticipation of more to come,” Knight said.
Center Point mayor Tom Henderson said he hopes the new plant and increased workers in the area will spur additional retail growth for the city.
“We hope to see more retail like a hotel and restaurants,” Henderson said. “We’ve been working with a group to recruit retail businesses to Center Point and this should help with that.”
Henderson said the city annexed the property in 2008 when Southern Comfort occupied the building in hopes of increasing industrial development.
After Southern Comfort filed for bankruptcy, the building sat empty in the midst of a national economic downturn.
“It’s been a long time coming, but this is what we hoped for,” Henderson said. “This is great for the city and will hopefully lead to jobs for people in Center Point.”
Autocar will celebrate their 120th anniversary in October. According to the company website, Autocar was founded in 1897, is the oldest motor vehicle brand in the United States and built America’s first truck, in 1899. The many technical innovations first introduced by Autocar which are now standard in all cars and trucks around the world, plus its focus on custom-engineering trucks for the most demanding applications, led to Autocar’s reputation among truck professionals in the 20th Century as the “World’s Finest”.
Since then, Autocar has become the only American truck manufacturer focused on trucks for severe-duty vocational applications – still adhering to the same mission that launched the company to its initial success: building custom-engineered trucks to provide purpose-built tools for the most demanding jobs.