“I think it reflects that Southwire has become a powerful player in this part of the country,” said Jim Perdue, the plant manager.
The family-owned business based in Carrollton, Ga., manufactures 75 to 80 million pounds of medium- and high-voltage cable and installation products in the Heflin plant each year, according to Gary Leftwich, spokesman for the company.
Southwire opened the plant in Heflin in 1996. It now employs approximately 200 of the company’s 7,500 employees, and is one of 30 company facilities, Perdue said.
As the senator toured the plant, Perdue wanted to impress on him what the company does and what it faces as a business. They talked about the metals market, fair trade and employment law, Perdue said.
Shelby said he was impressed with the business.
“A family-owned business,” Shelby said as he left the plant floor. “That’s what America’s about.”
The plant was Shelby’s 48th stop on a statewide tour focused on jobs and industry.
“Every year for 48 years, I’ve toured the state for some kind of meeting,” Shelby said.
This year, he said, he decided to visit a business in every county because business and jobs affect everybody in the nation. He wanted to find out how he as a member of Congress could help them. The visits have given him perspective, Shelby said. Everywhere he’s gone, business people have asked that he help avoid over-regulation, Shelby said.
Heflin Mayor Rudy Rooks was one of the people on the tour with Shelby. He also expressed concern about over-regulation, Rooks said. The city has been trying to attract business and it’s hard, Rooks said. Excessive regulation can make it even more difficult, he said.
The role of the federal government in economic development is first to do no harm, Shelby said.
“Everything we do affects them,” Shelby said. “We need to let the market work.”
Shelby said he believes Alabama is on the right path when it comes to attracting business and creating jobs. Gov. Robert Bentley is letting people know that Alabama is open for business, he said.
Tanya Maloney, director of the Cleburne County Chamber of Commerce, organized the tour for Shelby. She said the visit was valuable to Southwire, because it gave the company a chance to show itself off and also to address concerns to him. But it could also benefit other local businesses as it gave her and Rooks a chance to talk about their economic development challenges with the senator and his staff.
“He’s a good ear to have,” Maloney said.
Staff writer Laura Camper 256-463-2872. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.