Gadsden, Alabama


Nestled into picturesque Northeast Alabama, Near Alabama provides easy access to two international airports, local commercial air service, interstate access, and a Class 1 rail system from Norfolk Southern that runs to the port of Mobile. The high concentration of automotive factories and proximity to aerospace facilities makes it ideal for those industries, as well as metalworking and food processing.

Alabama Growing Cities

On The Rise

North Alabama is booming! Our region's population grew by 30,000 over the last 5 years and is projected to grow by 24,500 over the next 5 years. Jobs are also on the rise, having grown by 49,300 over the last 5 years with a projected growth of 33,000 over the next 5 years. College graduates have increased by 8% in the past five years as well.


The natural beauty of the area is one of our biggest attractions. From the breathtaking Noccalula Falls to the Lookout Mountain Parkway, there’s always something new to see. Play a round on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail or have a picnic on the banks of the Coosa River. Historic downtown Gadsden is home to a growing arts and entertainment district. Additionally, residents enjoy a cost of living that is 85.6% of the national average.

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History of Near Megasite


The Etowah County Commission began acquiring land adjacent to I-59 and Norfolk Southern Railroad for future employment-generating opportunities. They started with the purchase of 675 acres.


The county purchased 80 additional acres and the site was listed in EDPA’s state database of industrial properties with 755 acres.


The Commission contracted with the Gadsden-Etowah IDA to have a study done to (1) report on ways and means to develop the property as an industrial megasite, and (2) prepare for the marketing of this property to companies as a location for a mega project.

The Commission received the report which described (1) the characteristics of megasites; (2) what companies and their consultants consider important in evaluating the suitability of a site for a megaproject; (3) what needs to be done for the Near Megasite property to meet these standards so that marketing can begin to recruit a major new industrial employer to occupy the site; and (4) ways to accomplish this work.

To confirm the highest and best use for this property, the County Commission held public meetings and evaluated three other options for development.

The Commission formally voted to develop the Near Megasite property as an industrial mega-site so that Near would be able to compete for large projects. The County Commission approved the purchase of 81 additional acres to further increase the size of the site. Commissioners also awarded a contract to construct a new access road to the site.


The County Commission purchased an additional 168 acres of land, increasing the size of the site to over 1,000 acres.


The County Commission completed due diligence on all property and hired a consultant to facilitate the process of applying for EDPA’s Alabama AdvantageSite designation.


The Near Megasite earned the Alabama AdvantageSite designation. The County Commission hired their first economic development director for the purpose of promoting the mega-site and formulating a strategy to recruit a company that will add a large number of high-paying jobs to the county.


$2.7 million was awarded for improvements to the mega-site by the State of Alabama through the Growing Alabama Credit program. Norfolk Southern Corporation partnered with the county to be the donor through this tax credit incentive. Plans included construction of a 70-acre, rail-served, pad-ready site, a new railroad crossing, and relocation of natural gas lines to the perimeter of the property.


Construction began on the 70-acre pad. Etowah County conveyed property to Alabama Power for future construction of a new substation capable of serving virtually any large industry. This project will be a new 40MVA, 2-breaker, 115-46-12.47KV substation and will provide greater capacity for businesses and industry in the area.


Construction of the 70-acre pad was completed. Etowah County applied for and received another $3 million through the Growing Alabama Credit Program and in partnership with Norfolk Southern Corporation. The funding from Norfolk Southern will allow the pad size of the site to be extended to 100 acres and will include a new road that connects Canoe Creek Road North and Wesson Lake Road.


Rainbow City and Etowah County approved a memorandum of understanding that officially established a working relationship between the two parties.  The MOU will allow Rainbow City to help facilitate installation of water and sewer and improve the marketability of the site.  The MOU also paves the way for the future annexation of the site into Rainbow City’s corporate limits, which will allow it to receive assistance from the city and give it access to first responders, such as the police or fire departments, when necessary.

The Commission approved a contract with the Gadsden-Etowah Industrial Development Authority for industrial recruitment efforts.

The Etowah County Commission approved a contract with engineering consultant Goodwyn Mills Cawood to develop plans for the installation of water and sewer infrastructure to serve the NEAR Megasite.  Funding for the project came from the County’s American Rescue Plan monies.

Gov. Kay Ivey announced that the Norfolk Southern Railroad, using its funds and federal state money, would invest in $231.6 million of rail improvements from Mobile through Jefferson and Shelby counties. The project, known as the A-USA Corridor, is expected to connect to the NEAR Megasite, a 1,000-acre site off Interstate 59 in Etowah County targeted for industrial development.


In coordination with the Alabama Power Company, the Commission officially renamed the megasite the Northeast Alabama Regional (NEAR) Megasite.

The Commission, in partnership with Rainbow City, contracted with Goodwyn Mills Cawood to conduct an Interchange Access Request Study to submit to the Alabama Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration for review and approval.

The Commission applied for and received a third round of Growing Alabama Funds courtesy of Norfolk Southern, which will be used to fund construction of a 500,000-gallon elevated water storage tank.  This last contribution of $3 million brings Norfolk Southern’s total investment to $8.7 million.

The Commission awarded a contract for construction of over 3 miles of 16” water transmission main line, and approved an access agreement with Comcast Cable Community Management to install fiber onsite.


The Commission applied for an additional $4.6 million through the State of Alabama Site Evaluation and Economic Development Strategy Act.



A community excited to grow together and full of excitement and potential.


A community excited to grow together and full of excitement and potential.