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Economic Engines

Spotlight on Etowah & St. Clair Counties

Eissmann Automotive North America Inc., in Pell City in St. Clair County, employs 200 people focused on making products for the interiors of vehicles.

Eissmann Automotive North America Inc., in Pell City in St. Clair County, employs 200 people focused on making products for the interiors of vehicles.

Photo courtesy of Goodgame Co. Inc./Ed Tyler

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Gadsden
Open since 1929, Goodyear’s Gadsden location is the largest company in Etowah County and one of the largest in northeast Alabama, employing about 1,600. Its economic impact is significant. Goodyear-Gadsden pays $5.5 million yearly in city, county and sales taxes; it pays $120 million in wages and benefits annually, and it purchases about $55 million in goods and services from vendors within a 50-mile radius.

The last plant modernization was in 2007, which included a 205,000-square-foot building addition and process equipment. It gave Goodyear-Gadsden the capability to produce up to 24-inch tires.

The Gadsden plant produces Wrangler featuring SilentArmor Technology, Eagle LS, Eagle RSA, Fortera featuring SilentArmor Technology and the new Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure. It also produces original equipment tires for Chrysler and Ford.

Higher Education
Gadsden State Community College, with 777 employees, is one of the county’s largest employers, and has a total economic impact of $101.7 million. That includes $42.4 million in direct spending for GSCC employees and students. GSCC spending creates 1,525 jobs in the area. It also is home to the Alabama Technology Network and plays a large role in workforce development.

Other colleges in Etowah County include University of Alabama Gadsden Center and the Jacksonville State University Gadsden Center.

In St. Clair County, Jefferson State Community College has a Pell City center.

Automotive Suppliers
Nearby auto manufacturers bring jobs to both counties. “We have had many expansions in the last few years,” says Don Smith, executive director of the St. Clair Economic Development Council. “And many of our residents work for Honda.”

In St. Clair County alone, approximately 1,200 people work in the automotive supplier sector, and hundreds more at Honda, Smith says. Several suppliers have announced or finished expansions.

Automotive suppliers are also responsible for hundreds of jobs in Etowah County, says Mike McCain, executive director of the Gadsden-Etowah County Industrial Development Authority.  

Health Care
In Etowah County, three of the four hospitals are among the county’s largest employers – Gadsden Regional Medical Center, Riverview Regional Medical Center and Mountain View.   

In St. Clair County, St. Vincent’s Hospital recently opened a replacement hospital, St. Vincent’s St. Clair. The only hospital in St. Clair County, it replaces a 40-year-old facility.

The $50 million Col. Robert L. Howard State Veterans Home is now open, right across from the hospital in Pell City. It is built in a neighborhood style, with a grand entrance and portico and a drive-through area for pick-up and drop-off.  It has skilled-care and domiciliary/assisted living beds, along with amenities for residents.

Riverview Regional, with 800-plus employees, provided more than $36.9 million in uncompensated care in 2012 and provided more than $40 million in employee wages and benefits.

Food services
Both counties have strong food sectors — Etowah County has poultry processing facilities among its largest employers, and St. Clair has Red Diamond Tea and Coffee, Royal Sausage and Foods and J&M Foods.

Metals
Both counties count metal companies among their largest employers. 

“We’re focusing on companies utilizing advanced manufacturing technology, especially in precision metalworking,” says McCain.

In St. Clair County, there are more than four times as many people who are working in the metals sector than the national average, Smith says. 

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