By SHERRY DIGMON
Wednesday, March 10, dignitaries broke ground on the Coastal Growers peanut shelling facility in Atmore Industrial Park. They broke ground with two buildings already coming out of the ground behind them.
If two words could embody the comments made by numerous people leading up to the actual groundbreaking, those words would be teamwork and partnership.
Jess Nicholas of Centerfire Economic, who serves as executive director of the Escambia County Industrial Development Authority, gave a bit of background on how Coastal Growers came to Atmore and how much the teamwork meant to the process.
“Any time we reached out for help, multiple hands reached back to us,” he said.
Nicholas praised Gov. Kay Ivey’s commitment to economic development in Alabama, noting her professionalism and her desire to see Alabama win.
“Gov. Ivey has assembled a team of winners,” he said. With that, he introduced Gov. Ivey, who was on hand for the groundbreaking.
In her brief remarks, the governor said, “One of highest priorities in my administration is developing our workforce …Coastal Growers means 150 well-paying employment opportunities.”
Introducing Atmore Mayor Jim Staff, Nicholas said Staff had a vision for what he wanted to do in the industrial park.
“This is a great occasion,” Staff said. Addressing the governor, he said, “Without your support and everyone else, we couldn’t have made it. You have faith but sometimes it scares you to death. This is fantastic. This is going to reach way out … This is great. Welcome, welcome. Y’all have a good time.”
Dirk Lindsey was hired as Coastal Growers chief executive officer in December. He has 29 years of experience in the peanut industry, with more than 15 of those years as a plant manager. He comes to Atmore from Jonesboro, Ark., where he was most recently chief operating officer of Delta Peanut’s production facility there.
“Once running at full capacity, we’ll have more than 100 people. We’ll ensure our employees are highly trained,” Lindsey said. ” … I’m grateful to be part of this.”
Managing member Joe Parker thanked the 100 farm families who are part of Coastal Growers.
“We’ll be buying peanuts from Mississippi to the Chattahoochee,” he said. “This [facility] will help [the farm families] tremendously.”
Parker expressed his thanks to Mayor Staff.
“We are at home in Atmore,” Parker said.
After thanking numerous people for their teamwork and support, Parker added, “I do not want to thank one person – Mr. COVID-19!”