In the end, it came down to what it almost always does in real estate: Location, location, location.
County and Loxley officials announced last week the Kaishan Group of China will build its newest manufacturing plant in the central Baldwin town. Lee Lawson, president and CEO of the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance, said the company considered several locations in the county. The Kaishan Group is a worldwide manufacturer of compressed air, refrigeration, power generation and mining equipment.
“We market the entire county,” Lawson said. “We sat down with officials there at Kaishan and we showed them pretty much every site in the county that really fit their specs. They just really gravitated toward the Loxley site and the area.
“We showed them several locations from Daphne to Foley and everywhere in between. We gave them a handful of options that really fit their needs and fit their design and their layout. They made the decision from there.”
The Industrial Park Drive location’s ready access to Alabama State Route 59 and Interstate 10 won out over other sites Baldwin County had to offer.
“The logistical advantages of that site are really great with great proximity to I-10 and great access in and out of that site from a highway standpoint,” Lawson said. “All that helps.”
Another advantage was some of the company officials had already experienced what Baldwin County could offer, Lawson said.
“They wanted to be here in Baldwin County,” he said. “They had some executives with some previous experience here from being here and living here and doing business here. They already knew it to be a good location.”
Lawson said the county is becoming well-known among international companies looking to expand into the United States. Besides being the 11th-ranked metropolitan statistical area in growth, Baldwin has been ranked No. 1 in the state three straight years by SmartAsset for incoming business investment.
“Baldwin County is a fast-growing area and a superb place in Alabama to launch a new business venture,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “Kaishan Group has selected an ideal location for its North American manufacturing operation, and we look forward to working with the company as its business grows.”
The site will be a total “greenfield build,” Lawson said, but already has available utility access.
“There’s utility service there and they’ll have to extend a couple from [Route] 59,” Lawson said. “The road it’s going on is Industrial Park Drive, so it’s in a light industrial area of Loxley. Up and down County Road 49 and Industrial Park Drive you’ve got multiple businesses that are all in the distribution logistics or light manufacturing arena.”
The new building will be a 65,000-square-foot facility, with completion expected in the second quarter of 2019. It will mean 62 new jobs and more than $11 million in capital investment in the county in its first three years.
“We are excited to add Kaishan Group to the list of companies that have chosen Loxley as a great place to do business,” Billy Middleton, mayor of Loxley, said. “As our community continues to grow and thrive, Kaishan will play a key role in providing well-paying jobs for our residents, and I look forward to partnering with this company for many years to come.”