BAY MINETTE – A $2.5-billion aluminum recycling and rolling plant planned for the South Alabama Mega Site will bring 1,000 jobs to the Bay Minette area, project supporters announced Wednesday, May 11.
The Atlanta-based company Novelis has leased the entire 3,000 acres of the Mega Site for a plant. Baldwin and state officials said the company will have a major impact on the region.
“This is certainly an historic day in Bay Minette and Baldwin County. This obvious major investment is going to change the face of our town and our community and this area forever, Bay Minette Mayor Bob Wills.
Wills said the announcement is the result of 10 years of efforts to bring a company to the site.
“You've heard about the magnitude of what Novelis is going to bring to our area -- $2.5 billion investment, 1,000 jobs,” Wills said. “So, those quantitative numbers are great, but in my opinion the best thing they're bringing to our community is quality.”
Lee Lawson, director of the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance, said the Bay Minette Novelis plant will pay an average salary of $65,000 a year.
“It's almost $20,000 more than the average Baldwin Countian make is what they're going to start by paying,” Lawson said. “When sit back and let all that sink in and that what a great investment. It's going to raise everything up across the board and help us diversify our economy even further.”
Lawson said Novelis is scheduled to begin production at the plant in early 2025.
Tom Boney, president of Novelis North America, said the new plant will be the first fully integrated aluminum mill built in the United States in 40 years. He said the products made in Bay Minette will have a worldwide impact.
“We are a leading sustainable aluminum solutions provider for the world leader of aluminum rolling and recycling,” Boney said. “We are committed to sustainability in everything we do, and we are taking that lead in the aluminum industry to reduce our carbon footprint and increase the amount of recycled aluminum we use every day. That's why we are excited about the things that our new Bay Minette facility will do, from recycling 15 billion aluminum cans, 15 billion, that's a lot, to each year making more low-carbon aluminum for some of the world's leading automotive suppliers, and we've mentioned a couple of them, many of them residing right here in the state of Alabama, including Toyota and Mercedes Benz.”
The Baldwin County Commission bought the Mega Site property in 2012. Commissioner Charles “Skip” Gruber is the only sitting commissioner who was in office then. He said Wednesday’s announcement was the product of 10 years of effort.
“We have worked very hard trying to get to this point and at this point, Novelis's announcement to invest in Baldwin County with its new recycling aluminum rolling plant to make a lasting impact for years to come and the impact comes from decisions we made a long time ago to diversify our economy and having served as a Baldwin County commissioner in 2010 when we had the oil spill if this would have been there the diversity would have been here. We did not have that, and it was rough,” Gruber said.
Commission Chairman Jeb Ball, whose district includes Bay Minette, said the plant will bring new and sustainable jobs to the area.
“This is something that we’ve been waiting for, for a long time,” Ball said.
He hesitated at one point while speaking.
“I'm going lose it here in a minute,” Ball said. “It's been a long day coming. We've been looking for this for a long time. It's finally here and I can't believe it's here in technically my back yard.”
State Sen. Chris Elliott, who was on the commission during part of the time officials were working to bring companies to the site, said Novelis will find that the area has an eager and innovative workforce.
“As a former county commissioner, I know firsthand the amount of time and resources that Baldwin County has invested over the last 10 years to make this project a reality,” Elliott said. “It takes long-term commitment, planning and thoughtful investment to get where we are today.”
Lawson said he and other project supporters went through many disappointments when other companies announced that Baldwin County had come in second in the selection process for a site.
‘’You look at the hard work done by everybody on this team, the commission, the city, the state, all of our partners, here, locally,” Lawson said. “There's a lot of hard work that's gone into this. I'd say the hardest thing about this job is you don't get to celebrate when you finish second and we've done that a bunch.”
He said, however, that the wait has paid off.
“The investment that they're going to make and what we've seen from them as a company, they're going to make continuous investments and so we expect the $2.5 billion is what they're announcing today,” Lawson said. “We fully expect it to be $3 billion, $3.5 billion, on and on, just with the way they're designing the site for maximum capacity, saying the initial footprint's going to be 1,000 acres, but it's going to grow over time and they want to grow into the remainder of the site. We know that this is a first huge generational investment, but it's only going to grow.”
Novelis also announced plans to develop an Advanced Manufacturing and Leadership Training Center in Daphne.
The center will be located at the Daphne Innovation and Science Complex and provide workforce training in the metals industry, according to a company statement.