The Chambers County Development Authority announced that WestRock Co. plans an investment in its manufacturing operation in Lanett that will increase the facility’s competitiveness and position the area for job growth.
Atlanta-based WestRock, a provider of differentiated paper and packaging solutions, will expand its Chambers County operation to accommodate an increase in business, as well as prepare the plant for future growth with the addition of at least 50 jobs.
In 2017, the company ceased manufacturing operations at its beverage plant in Atlanta. A portion of the work from the Atlanta facility was subsequently transferred to the plant in Lanett.
According to WestRock, the Lanett expansion project will include a building expansion, new shipping docks, additional office space, new equipment and other upgrades.
“WestRock is a proud member of the Chambers County community, and we appreciate the support of the Alabama Department of Commerce and the Chambers County Development Authority as we increase the scope of our operations in Lanett,” said Pete Durette, president of WestRock’s Enterprise Solutions. “We look forward to continuing to contribute to Lanett and Chambers County.”
Employment at the WestRock Lanett plant has grown from 20 workers in 1996 to approximately 300 full-time employees today.
In a related development, a 375,000-square-foot distribution center to support WestRock’s plant in Lanett is planned for a 30-acre site in the Valley Industrial Park. Scannell Properties is developing the distribution center, which is expected to create additional jobs in the area and which will be 1.5 miles from the WestRock facility.
“Over the past two decades, WestRock has grown to become a major employer in Lanett and a solid member of the community,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.
“These projects will allow the company to expand its capabilities and continue to grow its presence through new jobs in Chambers County.”
Valerie Gray, executive director of the Chambers County Development Authority (CCDA), said the joint projects will make a significant contribution to the area’s economic vitality.
“WestRock is an outstanding corporate citizen that aligns with the CCDA staff and board’s goals of higher wages and a diversified manufacturing base,” Gray said.
“This expansion will positively impact Lanett, Valley and the county, but most importantly, local citizens will have great job opportunities.”
Lanett Mayor Kyle McCoy welcomed WestRock’s expansion plans.
“When one of our businesses announces an expansion, it’s not just a testament to their strength as a company, it’s a continued investment in our community that trickles down many levels, from tax revenue to our schools, to new jobs, to higher wages, all of which stimulate and grow our economy,” McCoy said.
“We are thrilled with this new announcement and are grateful to Valerie Gray and the CCDA staff for their hard work and effort on this unique project.”
Mayor Leonard Riley said the distribution center in Valley will provide a boost for his community.
“Over the past several months, we’ve been looking for the right fit with the first company to locate in the new Valley Industrial Park, and our interactions with Scannell Properties have demonstrated that they are a world-class developer and would prove to be a good fit with the City of Valley,” Riley said.
“We are excited to be able to take part in this partnership and bring another strong and reputable business into our city.”
Besides Lanett, WestRock has multiple Alabama locations, including Athens, Coatopa, Cullman, Cottonton, Demopolis, Eutaw, Huntsville, Montgomery, Newville and Stevenson.
WestRock has 45,000 employees supporting customers around the world from more than 300 operating and business locations spanning North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.