Written by Marybeth Luczak
The Northeast Alabama Regional (NEAR) Megasite is said to be the largest tract of industrial property in north Alabama. Owned by Etowah County, it is located along a Norfolk Southern mainline and interstate I-59.
Norfolk Southern’s (NS) Industrial Development team and economic developers in Etowah County, Ala., and at the Gadsden Etowah Industrial Development Authority have moved on to Phase 3 of a 1,100-acre industrial development site, to which the Class I has committed $8.7 million over the past three years.
The Northeast Alabama Regional (NEAR) Megasite is the largest tract of industrial property in north Alabama, according to NS. Owned by Etowah County, it is located in Attalla, along an NS mainline and I-59. A high concentration of automotive factories in the region and proximity to aerospace facilities makes this site ideal for those industries, as well as metalworking and agricultural opportunities, the Class I said.
NS in 2020 made an initial donation of $2.7 million for improvements to the megasite through the Growing Alabama Credit program. Initial investments in Phase 1 covered construction of a 70-acre, rail-served, pad-ready site, as well as a railroad crossing, and relocation of natural gas lines to the perimeter of the property. During Phase 2 in 2021, the railroad donated an additional $3 million to extend the pad to 100 acres, and to construct a new connecting road to local thoroughfares.
“Recently, the project was approved for a $3 million tax credit, and Norfolk Southern and economic development partners are now entering Phase 3,” NS reported July 31. “The Norfolk Southern donation will be used to construct an elevated, 500,000-gallon water tank that connects the site to water and sewer service. The investment also paves the way for additional property enhancements—like an interstate interchange.”
According to NS, the latest funds push its total commitment to the NEAR Megasite through Growing Alabama to $8.7 million over the past three years.
“Norfolk Southern is deeply connected to the economic development process in each of the 22 states we serve,” NS VP Real Estate and Development Kathleen Smith said. “This is all about creating joint opportunities for shared growth and elevating our communities. We’re committed to supporting and furthering rail-served communities and participating in our customer’s near and long-term business goals.”