WHY PIKE COUNY? Rex, Kimber officials explain reasons they came

Published 11:24 pm Monday, February 25, 2019

The Pike County Chamber of Commerce hosted Kimber Manufacturing and Rex Lumber Monday morning to answer the question “Why Pike County?” at the chamber’s business development breakfast.

“Why not Pike County?” asked Scott Moore, vice president of operations at Kimber.

More than 150 people packed the gymnasium at the Troy Parks and Recreation Center to hear from representatives of the two company and what made Pike County an attractive destination for new industry.

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Jared Banta, general manager of Rex Lumber Troy, said there were a variety of factors that made Pike County stand out above the competition.

“We are, of course, a saw mill, so the most important thing is the wood basket, and not just availability of suitable timber in the area but the private versus public ownership,” Banta said. “We don’t want to come into an area that is saturated already. When there are too many people it becomes a muddy thing.”

Banta said another important factor is state and local involvement and the local labor force.

One of the main things that separated Pike County was the work of the economic development team in the county, Banta said.

“If the question is ‘Why Pike County?’ I could have just come up here and said ‘Marsha Gaylard’ and sat down,” Banta said.

Gaylard is the president of the Pike County Economic Development Corporation. Banta said the county commission, city officials and economic development team understood from the very beginning what Rex was looking for and worked diligently to find the company a site that would work in the area.

“The biggest thing we ran into with Pike County were elevation issues; we couldn’t find a flat piece of property,” Banta said.

At one point, Rex officials thought they had found a site in Pike County, but realized the dirt was not compatible for them to build the mill.

“We decided Arkansas is where we need to go; we just can’t make it work here,” Banta said. “Marsha said ‘We need you to come back up; we have a solution for you. The county is willing to relocate this road and put these two pieces of property together … to make this one continuous piece of property.’ There was 40 feet of elevation change from the bottom to top of property, but they said ‘Don’t worry, we’re in Pike County; we know how to move dirt.”

Banta said he expects the mill to be fully operational on June 17 and that the company will initially employ 115 to 120 people directly and that even more indirect jobs will be created for loggers and truckers in the area.

“There’s a real economic impact happening now and will continue to happen,” Banta said. “We’re probably going to inject $40 million into the local woodbasket each year.”

Moore said a labor force and community that respects guns played a large part in the decision to expand Kimber’s manufacturing industry in Pike County.

“The second amendment is a challenge nationally,” Moore said. “Alabama is a very gun-friendly state. We figured most people have guns and it would be easy for them to get acclimated.”

As for why the new site is in Pike County of all places in Alabama, Moore said the graciousness of the economic development corporation and local officials played a major part as well as the site that was presented to the manufacturer.

He said the construction is going as planned and expects the site to be full operational by the end of May if not sooner.