Monday, 21 March 2011 18:31

Sonoco considers expansion

A $4.6-million investment may add 28 jobs at Hartselle plant
Decatur Daily
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HARTSELLE — City leaders here will consider abating taxes for a long-time industrial client at Hartselle-Morgan County Industrial Park that could generate 28 jobs and a more than $1 million in payroll.

South Carolina-based Sonoco Products Co. is considering a $4.6-million expansion, Mayor Dwight Tankersley said.

“We’re in the running for these jobs, and we need to do what we can to get them here,” Tankersley said.

Morgan County Economic Development President Jeremy Nails has been talking with the company for about a month, and Sonoco continues to evaluate where to make the investment. The company is a global manufacturer of consumer and industrial packaging.

“Anytime you have an opportunity to get jobs, you want to compete for them,” Nails said.

Sonoco officials are asking Hartselle for what Nails called a standard statutory abatement, which includes waiving sales-and-use taxes during construction and equipment installation.

Once the plant starts making products in the expansion area, the abatements will stop, except for property-tax abatements that could be as long as 10 years, Nails said.

The abatement does not include education-related taxes, he said.

Tankersley said a Sonoco facility burned in Louisiana and that the company plans to rebuild that operation, with Hartselle, a leading contender for the reconstructed facility.

In 1980, Sonoco purchased Baker Industries from brothers Raymon and Charles Baker.

The plant currently has 165 employees. Sonoco has not submitted any plans to the city’s Department of Development or purchased any building permits.

The talk of jobs coming along the Thompson Road and Interstate 65 area in Hartselle couldn’t come at a better time for city leaders because the area suffered a disappointing blow when Emerson Climate Technologies made two separate cuts that permanently eliminated 500 jobs. The plant, formerly known as Copeland Corp., makes components for air conditioning systems. The facility is less than one-fourth mile from Hartselle’s industrial park.

In September 2009, the plant cut 80 full-time and 100 temporary employees. Emerson eliminated another 320 jobs in February 2010.

The last cuts came four months after city, county and state leaders broke ground on a different kind of park south of Copeland — the Morgan Center Business Park.

This 165-acre park will look more like a college campus, and unlike existing industrial sites in Morgan County, it will focus on the aerospace, biotech and defense industries in Huntsville.

The new park is on Byrd Road and in the center of Morgan County and North Alabama.

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