The National Cement Co. of Alabama announced plans to invest more than $250 million to construct a new kiln at its Ragland production plant, ensuring the St. Clair County facility’s competitiveness for decades to come.
National Cement, which has been producing cement in Ragland since 1910, said construction on the project should begin in the first quarter of 2020, with start-up scheduled for 2022. Current operations at the facility will continue during the construction process.
“We are excited about our kiln project in Ragland. It will ensure that our employees and our Ragland facility can continue to be competitive for years to come by upgrading our plant with the latest technology and equipment,” said Spencer Weitman, National Cement of Alabama’s president.
“We have enjoyed a long, successful partnership with the Ragland community, and look forward to that continuing for many years to come.”
The Town of Ragland and the St. Clair County Commission both approved National Cement’s application and incentives for the expansion project at meetings on Thursday.
National Cement is the largest employer in Ragland, a town of 1,700 residents that is nestled in a scenic, resource-rich area near the Coosa River and Lake Neely Henry, about 50 miles east of Birmingham.
“My administration is committed to helping rural communities across Alabama thrive by helping great companies such as National Cement invest and grow in our state,” Governor Ivey said.
“I welcome the company’s decision to make a significant new investment in its St. Clair County operations because it will serve to deepen its roots in Ragland for many years to come.”
The Ragland plant ships manufactured cement products to a diverse customer base across Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi and Florida.
National Cement, whose parent company is France-based Vicat SA, also operates Kirkland Concrete, which has nearly two dozen ready-mix concrete plants across Alabama, and Walker Concrete, a major supplier in metro Atlanta.
“Production at National Cement’s site in Ragland began more than a century ago, and this massive re-investment in the facility will increase its vitality well into the future,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.
“It will also allow us to strengthen our longstanding partnership with a high-caliber company that has a major presence in our state.”
The St. Clair County Economic Development Council (EDC) said National Cement’s project represents the largest single investment in St. Clair County since the organization was formed in 1998.
EDC officials said the announcement adds luster to a benchmark year for economic development for St. Clair County, which has recorded a total of $330 million in announced capital investment in 2019.
“We feel blessed and fortunate to have incredible partners like the Birmingham Business Alliance, the Governor’s Office, the Alabama Department of Commerce, our County Commission, and the leaders of the Town of Ragland,” said Joe Kelly, chairman of the St. Clair County EDC.
Officials in St. Clair County cheered the company’s announcement.
“We are thrilled to have National Cement continue to invest in our community. They have always been a fantastic corporate citizen that is a great community partner,” Ragland Mayor Richard Bunt said. “I want to give special thanks to the St. Clair County Commission and the Governor’s Office for working so closely with the Town of Ragland and National Cement.”
“The investment in National Cement’s facility is a great example of our ability as a State, County, and City to work together and increase opportunities for the residents of St. Clair County,” added Paul Manning, chairman of the St. Clair County Commission. “We are excited about their continued commitment to the Town of Ragland, and we have always appreciated their support of the St. Clair County community.
“We would also like to thank Governor Ivey and the Alabama Department of Commerce for their efforts to ensure that this project is moving forward.”
Fred McCallum, interim president and CEO of the Birmingham Business Alliance, said National Cement’s investment at the St. Clair County facility represents a positive development for the community and the entire region.
“This was a competitive project and is a great example of retaining and supporting an existing company’s growth plans for the Birmingham region. This win will ensure National Cement’s and the community of Ragland’s sustained growth for years to come,” McCallum said.
“We appreciate the company’s continued investment in our region, and we are proud to be a part of the team that supported this expansion project.”