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Barton railcar officials address Russellville

By Staff
Jason Cannon
Franklin County Times
Officials from Alabama National Corporation, the new railcar plant scheduled to open in a Colbert County Industrial Park in 2009, addressed city and county business leaders at the A.W. Todd Center Wednesday afternoon.
Peter Earl, Corporate Affairs Director for Alabama National Corporation gave the crowd a brief history of the business and its intentions and goals as they get settled into their Barton site.
"When it's all up and running, we plan to have 1800 employees," he said. "But they will be brought in in phases. If everyone showed up all at once, it would be chaos."
The first hiring wave, he said will likely be team leaders and group managers who will be brought in weeks before the facility goes on line to familiarize themselves with the state-of-the-art equipment that will be installed.
"After that initial 150 or so, you'll probably see a progression of about 100 new employees a month until we determine we're fully staffed."
Earl said he had been in close contact with the state employment office and Northwest Shoals Community College in regards to the workforce and training.
Earl noted that many of the plant jobs will require mechanical and technological know-how, but there will be several administrative openings as well.
"In the administration part of the building, we'll have somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 employees," he said. "That's (human resources) people, accounting, bookkeeping and office jobs."
The application and hiring process for the plant has yet to begin.
Once news of the railcar facility hit the streets, hopes were high in the communities and towns surrounding the Barton Industrial Park that suppliers could soon follow. However, Earl said he doubted that would be the case.
"We don't have a lot of suppliers," he said. "Most of our stuff, like the wheels springs, the undercarriage…they are all pre-fab. We buy lots of steel but we don't require a lot of supplies."
The biggest local impact Earl estimated would be in secondary supplies such as wire and other hardware.
"We'll look for all that stuff regionally," he said. "And we use large quantities of it."
Additional economic impact will be felt during the construction phase, which is scheduled to begin in the coming weeks, as armies of workers and crews fill up local hotel rooms, restaurants and grocery stores.