Dec. 21—ATHENS — More than a year after announcing plans to build an Athens manufacturing plant that eventually will employ 100 workers, Gregory Industries is ready to move forward with the first phase of construction in the spring.
Mike Rothacher, Gregory Industries executive vice president, said the Ohio-based manufacturer will build a 90,000-square-foot facility at 26054 Airport Road as the first phase of a facility that eventually could include 400,000 square feet.
"I think that's probably about a five-year plan," Rothacher said.
The company will initially produce G-STRUTs at the Athens plant, he said. The company also has a plant in Decatur that makes the same product.
"A G-STRUT is a metal framing product. It's used in construction, and it's used to hang things like pipe and plumbing, electrical conduit," Rothacher said. "Eventually, we have other products. We have fencing. Of course, our big product is highway guardrails."
Rothacher said later phases of construction will enable the Athens plant to make some of the company's other metal products.
Rothacher said Gregory will invest $20 million to $30 million on the first phase of construction at its site on 72 acres in the Elm Industrial Park.
The planned expansion, Rothacher said, is why the company chose Athens for its new facility.
"We needed a great deal of acreage for our future plans," he said. "That just happened to be a very large piece of land that was available for the right price."
Rothacher said they will start with a lower number of employees to begin with.
"Initially it will be 20 to 25 for that first phase and then it could be as many as 100 employees over time," he said. "Five-plus years on that, I would say."
The first jobs, Rothacher said, will involve maintenance, manufacturing and supervision.
When the project was announced in November 2021, officials said they hoped the facility would be operational this year. Rothacher said planning the facility took longer than anticipated but site preparation is now underway.
"We just broke ground and we're preparing the pads there, but probably we won't erect anything until spring," he said.
The company hopes to have the facility operational by November 2023. Rothacher said supply chain issues delaying delivery of machinery for the plant will prevent it from operating earlier.
Bethany Shockney, Limestone County Economic Development Association president and CEO, said Gregory Industries is receiving abatements on non-educational taxes. In Alabama, school taxes cannot be abated.
"During construction they will potentially save around $753,000 and the schools will receive $449,500" on sales and use taxes, she said. "(An) abatement of non-education taxes for property taxes will potentially be a savings for Gregory Industries of around $1,252,768 but will be paying the schools $1,024,992 over a 10-year period."
Gregory's plant in Decatur is called Gregory Tube but was formerly known as Mid-Ohio Tubing, Rothacher said, and has about 50 employees. He said the plant makes galvanized tubing for carports and G-STRUTs. The Decatur plant is located on Willo Industrial Drive Southeast.
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