The Auburn Technology Park West should soon see the arrival of another company as the industrial park nears capacity.
The new company, Project Mountain, will join the park's other residents, including three German automotive suppliers, Kemmerich USA, Schmidt Maschinenbau and Rausch & Pausch. In 2014, General Electric Aviation began construction on an engine additive manufacturing plant with 3D printing capabilities. The plant began production in 2015.
The city usually announces when a new company plans to move to Auburn. Plans haven't been finalized yet, and city officials couldn't share what type of manufacturing the company will do. However, according Planning Commission documents, Project Mountain will manufacture parts for several industrial sectors.
"We also don’t want to interfere with any company’s ability to set their own timeframe to make announcements about an Auburn facility or the specifics of what they would manufacture," said David Dorton, the city's director of public affairs.
Site plans indicate a proposed facility of more than 47,000 square feet with possible future facilities that would amount to an additional 97,000 square feet. The construction of the facility will take place in several phases. The total square footage after completion of all of the phases will be 144,580 square feet.
The Auburn Planning Commission and City Council have approved the site plan for the facility.
The arrival of Project Mountain will add yet another high-tech industry to Auburn's employer and tax base as the city increasingly becomes a hub for high-tech manufacturing.
According to Dorton, the city's Economic Development Department has a strategy of recruiting small- to medium-sized manufacturers to Auburn's market.
"Speaking generally of recruiting industry, the City of Auburn Economic Development has long had a strategy of recruiting a diversity of small- to mid-size, knowledge-based, value-added manufacturing companies to the Auburn market," Dorton said. "The goal is to recruit industries that will provide local jobs, maintain and increase the tax base that funds local schools and city services and provides an economy that is stable and growing because of its diversity and because of the quality of industries in the market."
Auburn Technology Park West has been home to more than $150 million in capital investment over the past five years. GE's additive manufacturing facility alone represented more than $50 million in investment by the company. When the announcement of the Kemmerich facility was made in 2014, investment was inspected to total at more than $16 million, according to a city press release.
Kemmerich manufacturers automotive parts for auto makers including BMW, Ford, GM, Mercedes and Volkswagen. The plant is expected to provide more than 160 jobs by the time it reaches full production.
According to Dorton, high-tech industry is attracted to Auburn because of the major research university, the quality of life and the city's workforce.
"Quality of life is important, as those who will work for a new or expanding business need a great place to live and raise their families," Dorton said. "So all of the things that make people want to live in Auburn are also attractive to industries that might locate here. A quality labor force is also an attractive element for companies."
Auburn was recently named one of the nation's Top 10 Best Performing Small Cities. The Auburn-Opelika metropolitan area boasts the state of Alabama's lowest unemployment rate.