Opelika’s Nature Made facility, the site of a recent grand opening, has an AdvantageSite designation

When the city of Opelika chose to seek an AdvantageSite designation for the Northeast Opelika Industrial Park, economic development officials there hoped it would help spur industrial development.
It did.
Lori Huguley, director of the Opelika Economic Development (OED), credits having the AdvantageSite distinction for the industrial park as being instrumental in helping the city become home to vitamin and supplement Pharmavite LLC, which selected Opelika for its 330,000-square-foot facility on Northpark Drive, creating 245 new jobs.
“We wanted the designation to be prepared for a case like this,” Huguley said.
Most recently, Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller was joined by other city leaders, Pharmavite and state officials, including Gov. Robert Bentley, at the grand opening of the Opelika plant on June 7.
A 150-acre parcel of the 2,000-acre park received the AdvantageSite designation in 2009. The designation involves a meticulous process that requires, for example, documentation of ownership, environmental studies and infrastructure status.
The AdvantageSite program is sponsored jointly by the Alabama Department of Commerce, Alabama Gas Corp., Alabama Power Co., EDPA, the North Alabama Industrial Development Association and PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.
The program has proven to be a valuable asset to economic development. Eleven projects have located on sites with AdvantageSite designations since the program’s start, representing the creation of more than 2,700 jobs and $525 million in capital investments.
According to Pharmavite LLC., based in Northridge, Calif., and one of the largest manufacturers of high-quality vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements, noted it invested approximately $73 million in capital in 2012 and will invest another $16.6 million this year. The Opelika facility expects to have 260 employees by the end of the year.
Pharmavite broke ground for the new facility on Oct. 31, 2011, and began manufacturing Nature Made soft gels and tablets on Jan. 12.
Huguley said having the AdvantageSite designation for Opelika’s park was “huge” because the company was looking for existing sites. The Opelika site was one of three Greenfield sites in the running.
Without the designation, Huguley believes there “would have been a higher mountain we would have had to climb.”
Huguley continues to see the value in the program, and Opelika Economic Development has plans to seek redesignation of the site in the future.
For more information about the AdvantageSite program, visit http://http://www.edpa.org/about-us/advantagesite/