Walgreen Co., the State of Alabama, and The Shoals announced expansion plans for the company’s customer care center located in Muscle Shoals. The scope of the expansion will involve leasing, improving, and equipping approximately 15,000 square feet of available space within the “Southgate Mall” facility and making some improvements to Walgreens’ existing space.
Expanding the center to 62,000 square feet will allow Walgreens to more than double its workforce at that site. Capital investment of this expansion is approximately $3.5 million with a projected employment increase of 350 positions, including customer care representatives, human resource personnel, quality representatives, team leads and pharmacists. The facility expansion is expected to be completed by first quarter 2013 with new employee positions filled by the fourth quarter of 2014.
To enhance The Shoals’ competitive position for this expansion, new state legislation was passed during the 2012 legislative session, allowing The Shoals to move forward in its negotiations with Walgreens.
“Our location in Muscle Shoals, the quality of the area’s workforce, and strong relationships with local authorities have made this community a great place for Walgreens to do business,” said Troy Mills, divisional vice president, customer care operations, Walgreen Co. “ The recent passage of legislation sponsored by Senator Tammy Irons and Representatives Lynn Greer and Marcel Black, along with support from the Shoals Economic Development Authority, local governments, the State of Alabama, and the Alabama Board of Pharmacy were extremely important in our decision to expand in Alabama.
“We look forward to being an even larger part of The Shoals community and extend our appreciation for the outstanding support we have received from local and state officials, including Governor Robert Bentley, Mayor David Bradford and the Muscle Shoals City Council, the Shoals legislative delegation, and the Shoals Economic Development Authority, especially Forrest Wright and Susie Heird. Their support greatly improved our ability to create jobs and expand our Muscle Shoals facility,” Mills continued.
Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield expressed his appreciation to Walgreens for the new jobs that will be created in the Shoals area and for the confidence the company already has expressed in the business climate of Alabama.
“Walgreens has discovered first-hand the many benefits of a good location, a quality workforce, a great way of life, and a dedicated economic development team, all in place to help them grow and create jobs in Alabama,” Canfield said. “The Department of Commerce will continue to work with this company in the future to help them continue their success here.”
“Walgreens Customer Care Center has been a great corporate partner and member of The Shoals business community since 2004. They have believed in The Shoals and its workforce productivity and cost of operations here,” said David H. Bradford, mayor of the City of Muscle Shoals. “This expansion project has been a true team effort by our local elected officials, all our state legislators on both sides of the aisle, SEDA and its staff, and the SIDC. Forrest Wright and Susie Heird, in particular, stayed the course addressing some tough issues and keeping Walgreens officials, local elected officials, and our State delegation connected. I believe we have a team that is as good as or better than any place in the US or internationally. I’m proud to be just a small part of this group of dedicated people. I want to applaud the local legislative delegation, SEDA, Walgreens, the Board of Pharmacy and the numerous groups involved with passing the Walgreens legislation as everyone worked together, giving and taking, all in the spirit of job creation. There were a lot of meetings, emails and phone calls in the process, but in the end our goal to save and create jobs for The Shoals was realized with the passage of this legislation.”
Alabama State Senator Tammy Irons said, “Prior to the passage of the bill that helped make today possible, Alabama's laws were antiquated as related to pharmacy licenses and put the state at a disadvantage in job creation and recruitment of call centers to our state. Other states, such as Florida, were far advanced beyond Alabama and provided proper licenses for customer care centers. This bill now puts Alabama on a more level playing field with other states when it comes to recruiting customer care centers.”
“I would like to extend my appreciation to Walgreens for making the decision to expand its operations in The Shoals creating over 300 new jobs in our community. Congratulations to the staff of the Shoals Economic Development Authority, state legislators, and the Alabama Department of Commerce for working together to make this possible for The Shoals. Working together makes the greatest impact for The Shoals and the State,” said Frank Patterson, chairman, Shoals Economic Development Authority.
Forrest Wright, president of the Shoals Economic Development Authority, said “The initial Walgreens investment in 2004 was the result of a great company choosing a great community. This expansion is a result of a great company choosing a great community with a great workforce. The growing cooperation among Shoals leaders in 2000 directly led to this good news announced today.”
Walgreen’s Customer Care Center has been operating in Muscle Shoals since 2004 and currently has a 24/7 operation with 220 employees. This is an inbound center designed to serve Walgreens customers.