CEO Message — January 2022

Championing and cheering on development

Les MorelandThe year 2021 certainly had its challenges. The coronavirus pandemic continued. Inflation seized the U.S. economy. Prices for commodities like gas and groceries soared.

Despite these challenges, we at Wiregrass Electric Cooperative (WEC) believe brighter days are ahead for our region. Some major projects are beginning to come to fruition — positioning this area for an economic boon.

In this Alabama Living, we provide a profile of one of the first opportunities. Through a collaborative effort of state and local government leaders, the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Grow Dothan initiative, FedEx recently committed to build a 317,000-square-foot warehouse facility in eastern Dothan. Construction should be completed by the end of this year, providing the area more than 200 jobs. Furthermore, local construction contractors will greatly benefit from the extra work generated from such a large project.

The ripple effects extend beyond jobs. Since our area already maintains a low unemployment rate, shifts in the workforce will happen. People will likely relocate here in search of better jobs, increasing the need for housing.

We believe much of that growth will occur in our territory. The warehouse’s location is just minutes from several communities we serve, like Webb, Ashford, Cowarts, and Columbia. We’re elated by the potential for many reasons, including the increased traffic for the small businesses in these communities.

As exciting as the FedEx announcement is, we’re happy to share even more great news. We anticipate that all documents needed to secure a tenant for our speculative manufacturing facility will be finalized by the time you read this. If not, it won’t be long before the deal is completed.

We’re grateful to have partnered with our wholesale energy provider, PowerSouth Energy Cooperative, and the Geneva County Commission to construct the building that will initially bring about 100 good-paying jobs to Hartford. The company relocating here has expressed interest in adding to the existing facility, so we’re pleased by the potential growth to both our commercial and residential accounts. More about this project will be shared in a future edition of this magazine.

Yet another significant development is on the horizon. State officials project that construction on the expansion of Alabama Highway 52 into a four-lane road will begin this spring. Once the total project is completed, the expansion will stretch from Alabama Highway 167 in Hartford all the way to Dothan.

This road expansion is critical for economic growth in our area, since manufacturers emphasize access to four-lane roads, especially interstates, when considering sites for relocation or construction. An expanded Highway 52 is attractive, especially since it intersects Highway 167 — a thoroughfare with direct access to Interstate 10.

Leaders are also working to expand Highway 167, which will position our area for even more growth.

The past two years have brought challenges. But thanks to hard work, better days are ahead. WEC is committed to improving the quality of life for our members, and focusing on economic development is one way we do that.

We thank you for supporting us in these endeavors. We have sowed much, and in due season, we will reap much. Harvest season appears to be just ahead.

Les Moreland
CEO Wiregrass Electric Cooperative