David Knight, the executive director of the Walker County Development Authority, said the Yorozu plant is head of schedule on employment, while the Drummond Company has had a major role in the …
David Knight, the executive director of the Walker County Development Authority, said the Yorozu plant is head of schedule on employment, while the Drummond Company has had a major role in the grading of a 50-acre site nearby.
Knight on Monday gave the Jasper Kiwanis Club an update about projects in Jasper.
"I talked with (Yorozu) management today. Their current employment count is 237 employees. They are ahead of schedule in terms of ramping up. When they located here they said they would hit 300 within three years, and they are way ahead of that time line, which is a great thing."
The plant, which makes stamped suspension components, opened in March, after the site was selected after an extensive search in 2015.
In a PowerPoint presentation, he showed a photo with a full parking lot at Yorozu.
"That's a lot of folks from Walker County who are working," Knight said. "That's just one shift. They do have a second shift right now they operate. They operate first shift and third shift."
He said a total of 76 percent of the employees are from Walker County. The company has an investment of $110 million in a 285,000-square-foot building.
"They also try to use Walker County service providers wherever possible," he said, ranging from safety shoes to cleaning supplies.
Total annual payroll amounts to $12 million, with an annual local tax impact of $769,000. County schools saw more than $850,000 in construction sales tax for 2016-2017. It is generating $166,000 in annual average property tax for education, he said.
He said a number of indirect new jobs are also being created as a result of the plant.
"It just goes to show what one big hit will do for the community," he said.
He added the 50 acres just north of the Yorozu plant that is currently being graded on Whitehouse Road, with grading set to be completed by the end of October. The grading started 45 days ago and "is moving quickly," he said.
Pointing to high and low points in the grading, he noted the typography is "challenging to say the least." However, he noted the Yorozu site was done as a speculative site, without any idea of who might come in.
"Had we not had that site graded, table top, ready to go, we would have never heard the name Yorozu until they announced somewhere else," he said. "Having something to sell is critical."
Meanwhile, the amount of dirt to move on 50 acres of potential industrial property on Whitehouse Road is about 500,000 yards, and the going rate through private contractors is about $3.50 a yard. "That's about $1.75 million," he said.
Knight said the Drummond Company has had a massive impact on the project.
"I started talking with the Drummond family about six or eight months ago about how they might be able to work with us and help us to grade property," Knight said. "It took a little bit of time, but we ended up working a deal where Drummond is actually working as our site contractor on this property. We're getting this work done for less than 50 cents on the dollar. We estimate we will have around $600,000 or $700,000 in this project when everything is said and done. So it is huge savings, over $1 million in savings on this one project alone."
He is hoping that can be replicated on some other properties in the city, perhaps even across the street.
"If you see anybody from Drummond, know anybody from Drummond, thank them for what they are doing to help us out there," he said, adding it would have been extremely difficult for the Jasper Industrial Development Board to come up with the full funding.
He also noted most contractors don't have resources like D10 doziers and 50-ton rock trucks. "It's a whole different scale of equipment they can bring to the table," he said.
He also noted the city's fifth spec building, and that the longest one has been held has been two years. "We're about four months shy of that" with the current building.
"This is a phenomenal facility. It brings in a lot of projects to look at our community," Knight said of the 53,000-square-foot building with dock walls for dock doors and the ability to double to 103,000 square feet.