Despite an ongoing sluggish economy, Athens and Limestone County worked — and succeeded — in 2012 to attract new industry and businesses.
Though announced in 2011, the county granted a sales tax abatement in February to Carpenter Technology Corporation in the amount of $8.162 million through July 2014 and a property tax abatement of more than $13.9 million over 10 years.
The city of Athens agreed to build a $3.5 million electrical substation in southern Limestone to power the plant, and agreed to install gas pipelines to the facility. The city placed a value on the scope of work at $375,000.
In April, CTC officials broke ground on the $500 million facility, scheduled to open in early 2014. In August, officials announced there had been 900 job applications received for 14 posted positions.
Also in February, Elkmont-based Electricfil announced it would hire 200 new employees through 2017 as part of a $9.5 million growth plan. The expansion will make the Elkmont location the North American headquarters for the company.
In late-March it was announced that Limestone topped the state in capital investments in 2011. A total of seven new industrial projects and existing companies’ expansions provided $539.2 million in total capital investment for Limestone County.
In April, the Athens Planning Commission gave conditional-use approval for an oil re-refinery, to be located on North Jefferson Street. The operation would cost about $40 million to build and could hire up to 30 employees who would earn $18 to $22 per hour. The commission has still not approved a final site plan for the project.
In June, the commission again approved a one-time sales tax abatement for a new industry to be located in Ardmore’s Dekko Industrial Park. Advanced Technical Manufacturing was expected to hire about 35 workers.
On the development front, the City Council in February rezoned 20 acres of property for a mixed-use facility that will require reopening Old Decatur Road. Developer Bill Ming said the project would combine residential and commercial projects, including a 60-unit apartment complex for residents aged 55 and older.
In November, Ming announced he would develop a 31,925-square-foot shopping center on U.S. 72, just west of Walmart. The project, dubbed Athens Shoppes, is expected to provide 100 to 150 jobs and be a mix of retail and restaurant establishments.
Athens also had four new restaurants open in 2012, including Cottonjohns, located on U.S. 72; Los Trojas, located in the Publix shopping center; New Texas Pizza Buffet, located just south of the Courthouse Square; and Picasso’s, also located on U.S. 72 near Starbucks.
Work continues this month on an IHOP, to be located where Back Yard Burgers was located. The project is being developed by Birmingham-based Cox Developments and will open be open by early spring.