Like many Panhandle counties, Gadsden has grappled with higher-than-average unemployment and other economic blight, particularly in the wake of Hurricane Michael.
But according to local government and economic development officials working to turn the tide, the opening of a new wood treatment facility in Havana represents the latest glimmer of hard-earned hope to peek above the horizon – a vibrant beam of light in the dawn of a Gadsden County economic renaissance that includes innovative work training and education initiatives, novel and burgeoning industries setting up shop in local communities and massive infrastructure planning tailor made to suit the needs of – and, hence, attract – modern commerce.
Local and state leaders marked the opening of Hoover Treated Wood Products’ Havana plant with a ribbon cutting ceremony this past Thursday. Speakers from the local government and business communities lauded Hoover for bringing to town 20 new jobs paying “a good living wage” and assured company officials present for the late morning fanfare – like Hoover President Barry Holden – that their company picked the right place to set up shop, with Gadsden County’s hard working populace and wealth of job training opportunities.
In turn, Holden told the assembled crowd of more than 50 that he felt good about his firm’s decision to include Gadsden County in its growth plans.
“Certain things are necessary for a company to support itself in industry, particularly in our case, as far as raw materials, other goods and services and everything. It seemed like all of those things existed here in Gadsden County,” Holden said Thursday. “We also always look at the employee aspect – finding good employees and a good base of employees to meet our needs. And it seemed like that’s readily available here, as well.”
In addition to 20 jobs over two shifts of operation, Hoover – a 65-year-old company based in Thomson, Georgia – is expected to bring in $5.3 million dollars in annual revenue to the local economy, according to Gadsden County Development Council chair Antonio Jefferson – one of the keynote speakers this past Thursday.
The Havana plant, like other Hoover locations dotted throughout the Southeast, manufactures fire retardant lumber products – in high demand as building codes become more stringent and concerned with safety protocols. The plant is situated off of Potter Woodberry Road in Havana, near the expansive Coastal Forest Resources campus – home to Gadsden County’s largest private employer in both revenue and employee count. To pave the way for Hoover, the Town of Havana obtained a $323,000 grant to extend public water, sewer and other infrastructure to the site of the new facility.
By Brian Dekle