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Southern Classic Food Group bringing new processor to Brundidge

Messenger photo/Jaine Treadwell The announcement Monday of the formation of a new industry, a pickle plant, in Brundidge received a toast from business owners, Lamar Steed, left, Chip Wallace and center Pike County Commissioner Joey Jackson.

Messenger photo/Jaine Treadwell
The announcement Monday of the formation of a new industry, a pickle plant, in Brundidge received a toast from business owners, Lamar Steed, left, Chip Wallace and center Pike County Commissioner Joey Jackson.

Southern Classic Food Group, the City of Brundidge and the Pike County Economic Development Corporation announced Monday the formation of a new company, Magnolia Vegetable Processors, which is in partnership with Southern Classic Foods, Southern Picklers and others.

Magnolia Vegetable Processors will process a variety of dill products including cucumbers, peppers, okra and relishes. The company will also produce salsas, which will include diced tomato based products with a variety of flavors and package sizes. The new company will be located on property adjacent to Southern Classic Food Group in the Brundidge’s North Industrial Park,

The company’s brine products will be brought in for packaging initially but produce will also be purchased locally and from other southern markets for processing at the Brundidge facility.

The initial investment in the new food processing company is estimated at $5.56 million. Twenty-two jobs will be created the first year with a total of 55-60 jobs being created within 30 months. Plans are to have products on line by May 2016.

The announcement of the new company was made at a gathering of city and county elected officials and business and community leaders Monday afternoon at the Southern Classic Food Group site.

At the same time, Chuck Caraway, owner and president of Southern Classic Foods Group, announced the expansion of his company’s facility with a $3.2 million new investment. Southern Classic Foods will partner with a significant nationally distributed juice company to package food service orange, lemon and lime juice products under a multi-year contract agreement.

Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage said the announcements of the new food processing company and the expansion of an existing company represent $8.7 million in new investments in Brundidge.

“With these investments, 75-80 jobs will be created,” Ramage said. “Both projects expect to be operational during the first quarter of 2016.”

Ramage gave credit to landmark decisions made by former Brundidge city officials for paving the way for the industrial growth of Brundidge over the years.

“Their decisions to have ownership in our utilities and the gas company and to install a waste water treatment facility that could handle industrial waste from food processing plants made days like today possible,” he said. “You can’t put a price on that.”

Ramage also said the city has recently received its first ad valorem tax check from the Wal-Mart DC.

“That money, about $80,000, made it possible for the city to purchase 222 acres for future industrial growth in this industrial park,” Ramage said. “The City of Brundidge is ready for future industrial growth.”

Caraway, who has 18 years experience in the food processing industry, was working with a food processing company in Brundidge prior to starting his own business in 2001.

But he needed to look no further than Brundidge for a place to locate.

Brundidge’s long history in the mayonnaise and salad dressing business provided him with a community of potential employees who knew the business.

He started Southern Classic Food Group in a former Piggly Wiggly building that was too small to house the business so he farmed it out all around town. Today, Southern Classic Foods is a 205,000-square-foot facility with plans to expand another 28,000-square-feet.

Ramage said visionaries such as Caraway continue to find and create ways to provide products and employment that keep small communities alive and vibrant.

“We have more people that come to work in Brundidge every day than put their heads down here at night,” he said. “We have job opportunities for people in our town and in the surrounding area. Southern Classic Foods and Magnolia Vegetable Processors are in the process of bringing more jobs to Brundidge and we cannot thank them enough.”

Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, represented the governor’s office Monday afternoon. He said industrial growth doesn’t happen easily or alone. It takes many people working together to make industrial growth happen.

“It takes strong partners like Power South and Southeast Alabama Gas to build a case for industrial growth,” he said. “I see a continuation of great things happening here through organic growth.”

As existing industries expand by increased output, customer base expansion, new product development and as new industries choose to locate in Brundidge, the climate for industrial growth will continue to exist, Canfield said.