Published 12:20 am Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Shaw Industries plans to spend approximately $184 million to upgrade equipment at its Andalusia facility, according to applications the company filed for the abatement of taxes associated with the project.

The Andalusia City Council was the first to approve the company’s request Tuesday night. The company is expected to meet the same approval from both the Covington County Commission and Gov. Robert Bentley.

“Shaw Industries has selected the Andalusia plant to make some significant investments for new equipment,” Mayor Earl Johnson told council members Tuesday. “The investment Shaw is going to make in this plant is very significant and will secure the plant in Andalusia and Covington County for many, many years.

“We have been working on this about for about six or nine months,” Johnson said. “PowerSouth, Southeast Alabama Gas and others have been working with us, making improvements in what we are able to provide in terms of energy to the Andalusia plant so we can be competitive with other plants.

“With this new equipment, it will be the most modern and productive plant for this process, maybe in America,” Johnson said.

Local plant manager Ron Fantroy said, “Words cannot adequately express how much appreciation the company has for the support the city and local governments have rendered over the past 35 years.

“But we also are very, very appreciative for any additional support for the next 35-plus years. I think the actions you choose to take are very important to the company, our employees and this community,” he said

Shaw employs approximately 1,000 associates at Plant 65, which creates fiber used to manufacture carpet.

“As part of our long-held commitment to continuous improvement and innovation, we are carefully evaluating options to modernize the facility and our equipment – employing even more advanced manufacturing techniques to meet the needs of our customers and associates,” Fantroy said in written statement. “Abatements are an important part of that decision process and impact our ability to compete successfully in the marketplace for the short- and long-term as we look to make significant investments in the facility and thus our people and the community.”

He declined to discuss more details about the project, citing the competitive nature of the carpet industry.

The abatement application indicates the project includes new construction as well as equipment. The Code of Alabama allows the abatement of taxes except those imposed for schools.

The Council’s approval of a resolution Tuesday night authorizes the city’s Industrial Development Board to give final approval of abatements, Rick Clifton, executive director of CCEDC said.