Anniston City Council agrees to incentives for local industry
by Paige Rentz
Jun 11, 2013 | 5025 views |  0 comments | 160 160 recommendations | email to a friend | print
NABI employee Brandon Ledbetter works on the final weld stage of producing a bus Tuesday at North American Bus Industries. (Anniston Star photo by Courney Davies)
NABI employee Brandon Ledbetter works on the final weld stage of producing a bus Tuesday at North American Bus Industries. (Anniston Star photo by Courney Davies)
The Anniston City Council is investing in new industry in the Model City.

At its Tuesday meeting, the council authorized economic development incentives for both Creedmoor Sports and North American Bus Industries.

The council approved a $15,000 incentive to Creedmoor Sports, which moved its operations from California to a facility at McClellan earlier this year, and a $100,000 incentive to North American Bus Industries, part of an agreement with the state to aid in the company’s expansion. The total agreement between the city, state and NABI calls for $400,000 in reimbursements.

“It was worthwhile” said City Manager Don Hoyt of the incentives.

Creedmoor Sports, he said, is “going to be a growing business, and we want them here. And that’s what the incentives are for.”

Hoyt said the agreement with NABI was made with the state some years ago, but the company wasn’t able to receive the incentive until it met certain job growth thresholds.

Herb Clark, executive vice president for human resources at NABI, said the expansion is part of bringing the company’s operations from Budapest, Hungary, where it built parts of its buses to the United States.

“We’re building all (of) the bus in (the) U.S. now,” he said.

To accomplish this, said Clark, NABI invested $6.3 million in new tooling and equipment that enabled the Anniston plant to produce low-floor buses that range from 30 to 60 feet in size.

“We were able to expand the business, and we were able to hire over 200 people,” he said,

Allen Roberts, senior bid administrator at NABI who was at Tuesday’s Council meeting, said the expansion has been a couple of years in the making, and the transition from Hungary is still ongoing.

Clark said the expansion has required hiring a large number of welders. He said NABI’s welding operations are unique, and require a great deal of training.

In addition to investments in equipment, some of the funding will reimburse NABI for training these new employees.

“North American Bus Industries has made a huge investment in their facility and has expanded and continues to expand their employment base,” said Don Hopper, executive director of the Calhoun County Economic Development Council. “It’s a tremendous advantage to our community.”

Hopper noted that NABI is one of the largest industrial employers in the county.

Attempts Tuesday to reach Dennis DeMille, general manager of Creedmoor Sports, and state officials with knowledge of the NABI agreement were unsuccessful.

In other business, the council:

— Removed from the agenda an agreement with Allied Waste Services of Anniston in order to add curbside recycling as a service to the city’s residents.

— Authorized reimbursements to city officials for expenses incurred while traveling away from the city.

— Authorized the city manager to execute a professional services agreement with Douglas J. Watson for consulting services, which include evaluating the planning and management of the city’s resources and programs. Councilmen Jay Jenkins and David Reddick voted against the measure.

— Approved an off-premises retail beer application for the Express Mart 29 located at 3612 Old Birmingham Highway.

— Approved closing 13th and 14th streets between Moore and Gurnee avenues and

Gurnee and Moore avenues between 13th and 14th streets from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on June 15 for the Family Heritage Festival in Zinn Park.

Staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.

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