550 jobs coming to long-vacant Wetumpka plant

A clothing manufacturer will move into a vacant building in Wetumpka. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 10:52 AM CST|Updated: Mar. 10, 2022 at 10:21 PM CST
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WETUMPKA, Ala. (WSFA) - The State of Alabama made a major economic announcement Thursday in connection to a massive facility in Wetumpka that’s been vacant for nearly a decade. BELLA+CANVAS, an apparel manufacturer, is set to move into part of the old Russell Brands plant and is expected to create more than 550 jobs in the process, according to Gov. Kay Ivey’s office.

The Los Angeles-based company will make a $12 million investment to begin operations in a portion of the nearly 900,000 square-foot facility, located at 3145 Elmore Road. The building hasn’t been used since Russell Brands closed its operations there in 2013. It was bought in 2020 by a Wisconsin-based private real estate firm, which is now leasing part of the building to BELLA+CANVAS.

BELLA+CANVAS makes clothing for retail and wholesale markets, but also offers clothing design and manufacturing services. The governor’s office explained that the company is known for its domestic manufacturing mission, innovative new fabrics, and sustainability practices.

The company already employs more than 1,000 people at its Los Angeles facility, which churns out around 3 million garments on a weekly basis. Ivey’s office said the Wetumpka facility is expected to be similar.

The company says positions at the Wetumpka plant will include spreaders, general cutting laborers, forklift operators, shipping and receiving clerks and administrative staff. The average annual wage will be $46,000. The Alabama Industrial Development Training, or AIDT, the state’s primary workforce development agency, will help BELLA+CANVAS with pre-employment and job training services.

“The decision by BELLA+CANVAS to locate its high-tech cutting facility in Wetumpka is welcome news for Elmore County and for Alabama,” Ivey said in a press statement. “Not only will the company’s growth project spark the creation of a significant number of jobs, but it also underscores how Alabama is ready and eager to play a role in America’s manufacturing renaissance.”

Elmore County Commission Chairman Troy Stubbs praised the announcement saying, “In addition to the boost our local economy will receive from the infusion of jobs, we are proud to be part of the efforts of Phoenix Investors and BELLA+CANVAS to reshore manufacturing jobs to the United States.”

The company’s president, Chris Blakeslee, said a comprehensive search was done and that “we ultimately concluded that our new location in Wetumpka, Alabama was not only optimal to enhance our manufacturing footprint and technologically advanced operations levels, but also ideal in terms of support from the local government and access to great new team members.”

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