Reliance Worldwide is once again expanding its operations in Cullman. On Monday, the company broke ground on its latest project, a new 300,000-square-foot distribution facility off of Highway 69. The project, dubbed "Project York" by the city, is estimated to have a $24 million economic impact and create 130 new jobs.
Reliance Worldwide Corporation (RWC), a global provider of water control systems and plumbing solutions for domestic, commercial and industrial applications, bought Cash Acme, a company headquartered in Cullman, 18 years ago and has since expanded its presence in Cullman.
"Since those early years, we've received a very warm welcome from Cullman and the state of Alabama," said Reliance of Americas CEO Sean McClenghan. "The relationship has only grown and blossomed since."
The company has invested more than $100,000 million in Cullman and now has four manufacturing facilities and several distribution sites.
"When this facility opens roughly one year from now, we'll be approaching 1.1 million square feet for manufacturing and distribution in Cullman County. At that point in time we'll be employing 500 employees. We wouldn't be making this investment in our business unless we believe our growth would continue," said McClenghan.
Gov. Kay Ivey attended the groundbreaking Monday, along with Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) Director Kenneth Boswell and local leaders. Dale Greer, director of the Cullman Economic Development Agency, noted that the project came together with the help of Cullman's legislative delegation, state and federal leaders and local officials.
"It is a community where partnerships make things happen," he said.
"This is a great day for the Cullman area and the state of Alabama," said Ivey. "The state of Alabama and Reliance Worldwide have shared a strong and productive relationship through the 18 years. Cash Acme operations have grown to be a vital part of Cullman's local economy and Alabama's manufacturing industry."
The city of Cullman has been working with the company over the past year to lay the groundwork for the expansion.
In order to bring the expansion to Cullman County, the company requested a traffic signal for the intersection of Hwy. 69 and 24th Street.
"Accidents occurred there pretty frequently and there had been a couple fatalities there," said Greer. Cullman and Good Hope each contributed to the $250,000 project, as did ADECA. RWC contributed the final $50,000 for the project.
"That is pretty remarkable," said Greer. "They saw the critical need there; thousands of motorists a day go through that. It was just important to get done."
The 81 acres on Cherokee Ave./Hwy. 69 where RWC will be building its new distribution site was previously owned by Randall York. To acquire the property, the city swapped with York about 100 acres it owned on County Road 469 - the site of the annual Rock the South music festival - and paid him an additional $400,000 for the land.
According to Greer, the York property was better suited for industrial development and the city saved millions in infrastructure costs, including road, water, sewer, electricity, natural gas and fiber, which were already available along Hwy. 69 fronting the property.
Last month, the city council approved a tax abatement for the project. As part of the abatement, the company will be exempt from the state and city’s noneducational ad valorem taxes and any construction related transaction taxes for the next 10 years.
"Reliance has been a top-notch employer, who, through their strong leadership, took the time and attention to detail to make this expansion one that would create a long-term impact within our community and their corporation," said Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs. "We have been at this for a long time, and there have been a lot of ups and downs, but today the deal is done."
With the expansion of RWC, much of the property zoned for manufacturing in Cullman has been developed. Greer said there are about 50-60 acres available off Hwy. 222 and a few smaller sites within the industrial parks, but added, "We are looking for sites."