Jefferson County Paying Almost $1.5 Million in Incentives for Autocar Plant

Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington

Sept. 14, 2017 – With the cat having been let out of the bag, Jefferson County commissioners made the formal announcement Thursday about incentives for the creation of jobs related to Autocar’s moving into Jefferson County.

Gov. Kay Ivy took part in an announcement Wednesday that the Indiana-based trucking company will develop a plant in Center Point and Birmingham.

“If you want to give incentives for job creation, that has to be advertised to the public,” said Commissioner David Carrington, who chairs the county’s Finance, Information Technology and Business Development Committee. “The company didn’t want to release their name until (Wednesday) so we couldn’t advertise the jobs incentive until today.”

The county agreed to pay Autocar $1.492 million contingent on the company beginning manufacturing and meeting agreed-upon employment goals.

Autocar is developing a pair of 5,000-square-foot buildings on Alabama 79 in Center Point. The facilities’ parking lot is in Birmingham.

“Basically, it means 746 high-paying jobs, $58,000 a year plus benefits,” Carrington said. “The spinoff of that will probably be at least another 1,000 jobs. These people will have jobs and spend money on housing, food, transportation. That stimulates the economy.

“But it also means there’s going to be 20-plus suppliers that need to be located close to Autocar,” he continued. “That’s an opportunity for existing businesses to expand or other businesses to relocate.”

Altadena Zoning Request

The chambers of the Jefferson County Commission were full this morning as Altadena Road residents came to voice their opposition to a proposed zoning change.

The commission, following the lead of the Planning and Zoning Commission, denied the request.

The estate of Simmie G. Kayser asked that a pair of properties be rezoned from estate to institutional-2 to develop an assisted living facility. An attorney for the owner said as many as 16 persons would live in each of the two houses on those properties at Altadena Road and Cahaba River Road.

Carrington said he has twice heard efforts to rezone the property and another effort came to the commission before he took office. Each time, the request was denied.

“They’re trying to change the character of the neighborhood,” Carrington said. “I understand the location of the property is very attractive but there are alternative locations to put that kind of facility.”

Carrington acknowledged the frustration of citizens who again secured legal representation to combat the effort. “Legally, we can’t prevent someone from asking it to be rezoned,” he said.

School Funds Distribution

In another matter, commissioners OK’d the distribution of money left from the proceeds of a 1-cent sales tax after the county had refinanced bonds for the schools. Commission President Jimmie Stephens called the move “a game changer for Jefferson County” with $69 million being split among the school systems in the county.

Birmingham Mayor William Bell was present to express his gratitude. Birmingham City Schools will get $16 million of the initial distribution.

“I’m here this morning to say, ‘Thank you,’” he said. “Thank you for keeping your commitment, thank you for the distribution of funds to the Birmingham School System and other school systems.”

Carrington noted that the money to school systems comes with “no strings attached.”

“If one school needs to use it to renovate a building or add a roof, they can use it that way,” he said. “If another school wants to use it for personal development of their teachers, to send them to classes, it can be used that way. It can be used for supplies.

“These are big shots in the arm for under-funded schools,” Carrington said.