NAFCO breaks ground on new access road, will create 30 new jobs

From left to right are Carson Clark, from the office of Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama; NAFCO President Ralph Parrish; Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs; Rep. Corey Harbison, R-Good Hope; Cullman County Commission Chairman Kenneth Walker; Sen. Garlan Gudger, R-Cullman; Cullman Economic Development Agency Director Dale Greer; Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce’s Peggy Smith; NAFCO Executive VP Jim Smothers; and St. John & Associates Project Manager Dale Bright. (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – “Let’s keep moving Cullman forward!” Cullman County Commission Chairman Kenneth Walker said at a groundbreaking ceremony for a new industrial access road for North Alabama Fabricating Company (NAFCO) Friday afternoon. Local and state leaders were on hand for the ceremony along County Road 222 at the NAFCO campus. With the construction of this industrial access road, NAFCO has committed to expanding its infrastructure and creating 30 new jobs.

The Cullman Economic Development Agency (CEDA) explained how the project was made possible, saying, “NAFCO recently received an industrial access road grant for $324,000 through the Alabama Department of Transportation’s (ALDOT) Industrial Access Road and Bridge Committee. To be eligible for this grant, NAFCO had to meet a certain set of standards. One of the standards was ‘the industry must be committed to new investment and the creation of new jobs.’”

NAFCO, which engineers, fabricates and installs structural steel, approached CEDA about available state funding for a new industrial access road. NAFCO currently uses one access road for all ingress and egress and shares that road with Topre America.

CEDA Director Dale Greer said, “We are very fortunate to have a large existing industry base here in this county as a whole. We do not just want to recruit these industries and that be it. A large part of our focus is, and always has been, the retention of our industry. By doing this, it is important that we address their needs whenever they arise so our existing industries can grow and expand here at home. Travis Kilgore of ALDOT’s Guntersville office has been very helpful throughout the process.”

Once the grant was ready to be submitted, it went before a nine-person committee.

Sen. Garlan Gudger, R-Cullman, a member of the ALDOT committee, said, “Existing business and industry makes up the bulk of a community’s economy. It is very important for the leaders on the local and state level to listen to their needs and seek out answers. On a state level, we are very happy to have a source of revenue that allows for grants like this. Whenever we have the financial means to provide, and there is an eligible need in this district, I am going to do all I can to make sure those needs are met. Anytime you can assist in providing a means that will in turn create jobs and bring capital investment, that is a win for everyone.”

Gudger was on hand for remarks at Friday’s groundbreaking.

Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs and the Cullman City Council were also instrumental in securing the grant. Since this will be a public street, they had to commit to assuming the care and maintenance of the road.

Jacobs said, “The biggest factor in our approval of this project was the commitment by NAFCO to create 30 jobs and add new investment. When there is an opportunity to create new, quality jobs in our community, and add new investment, the council and myself view that as a positive move in the right direction for Cullman. We stand behind our existing business and industry and are committed to working with them to the best of our abilities to ensure that our local economy continues to prosper.” 

Ralph Parrish, president of NAFCO, spoke to those in attendance about the variety of projects in which NAFCO has played a major role during its 20 years in Cullman.

“In the most recent history we did the Auburn scoreboard out of here. We did the NASA test stands to send our people to Mars in 2024. That came out of Cullman, Alabama,” said Parrish. “Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta just this year and we worked on the Raiders Stadium. We are working on the baseball field for the Rangers in there in our shop right now. We are doing ammunition plants for the Army and we have built rides for a major amusement park in central Florida. Right here in Cullman, Alabama.”

Last year NAFCO added $5 million in equipment, and it plans to expand this year with another bay for assembly and $1 million in additional equipment.

Gudger praised the hard work by everyone who played a part in making the industrial access road possible, saying, “This has a ripple effect that will make way for the creation of 30 jobs and will allow for a large capital investment back into the economy. These opportunities will be a positive impact on many individuals and families here in Cullman, Alabama.  As long as we have a constant revenue stream to sustain grants, as this, we will be able to provide for those projects that are the most viable for our state and for its people.”

Walker and Jacobs thanked everyone and recognized who cooperated to make the new access road possible.

Said Greer, “The road, we are talking about 10 to 12 months to get it bid and get it constructed and all of those things.”

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Christy Perry