NOTASULGA—With the closing of VictoryLand, Macon County now has a new lead on new business and jobs in the area.
On Monday morning, Gov. Robert Bentley and local officials gathered at Beck's Turf Farm in Notasulga, located near Interstate 85, to unveil the new CSX Select Site, which has the potential of bringing in hundreds of jobs to the area.
The Select Site program was started in 2012 to work with economic developers in generating a list of properties with the potential for development that have direct rail service by CSX. The Macon County Select Site is only one of eight sites nationwide.
Speaking at the ceremony, Bentley credited the success of the acquisition to many groups working together to bring CSX to the state, such as the Macon County Economic Development Authority and the Alabama Department of Commerce.
“This team is creating something that I believe will help us recruit first-tier, second-tier industries to this area,” Bentley said.
Bentley maintained that Macon County had everything needed to run successful industries and that industries are what the county so desperately need. Bentley also said that what the county now had was something not available anywhere else in the state.
“Just because you’re a rural county doesn’t mean that you can’t have top-quality industry,” Bentley said.
Mark Ennis, chairman of MCEDA, said he is proud that such a great opportunity now exists in the county.
“Today, we’re taking a significant step in our efforts to improve the economic landscape of Macon County,” Ennis said.
Rep. Pebblin Warren said the county would be equipped to apply to the workforce due to starting the second phase of her Ready-To-Work Program at the old Washington Carver School in Tuskegee. The program trains people for necessary job skills and certifies participants for new jobs in Alabama.
“Despite of our most recent adversities and hardships we’ve had to endure in Macon County, we can stand proud and hold our heads high for our accomplishments here today with CSX,” Warren said.
In addition, Sen. Billy Beasley said the new opportunity for jobs would be greatly anticipated by the community.
“This is a special day because we’ve got folks in Macon County who want to go to work, are qualified to go to work, and need to go to work,” Beasley said. “All we need to do is bring industry to this CSX select railroad site and we can make that happen.”
John Sanford, CSX's regional development manager for Alabama, said the capital investment potential industry for the site could range anywhere from $5 million to $100 million and could create hundreds of jobs in the process.
“Alabama has national prominence in the economic development community,” Sanford said. “It’s a very competitive state in pursuing new economic development projects…so I expect that this certification will place this site in front of the line for consideration of future projects.”
Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, congratulated the MCEDA for their work and for making an investment in the county’s future.
“Macon County is not waiting on someone to establish its destiny,” Canfield said. “What you’re doing today is establishing your own destiny: your future in economic development.”
Follow Drew Taylor on Twitter @mrdrew_taylor