Alliance Technology makes move to Dallas County

Published 8:02 pm Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The announcement of a new business brought political and financial leaders, local citizens and representatives of an innovative company together at the St. James Hotel on Tuesday.

Wayne Vardaman, executive director of the Selma and Dallas County Economic Development Authority, announced that Alliance Technology Group Inc. would bring an investment of $25 million and 175 jobs during the next two years.

James Solano, CEO and director of the company based in New York City, said it was a bold move for a small company looking to expand.

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But with the closing of Louisiana Pacific in Selma — a company that makes plastic lumber and builds the floors for Alliance’s shipping containers — the pieces fell into place in a way that made the deal beneficial for both Solano’s company and Selma.

“Actually, we were talking to them about building some products for us,” Solano said. “And in the middle of talking to them, they told us they were going to shut down this plant and were going to auction off all the equipment. So we came down to look at the equipment and see what we could buy. In the interim, we started meeting the people and looked at the infrastructure.”

Alliance Composites Alabama LLC will produce the company’s composite container panels and ship them to its Tennessee facility for fabrication and assembly.

Alliance makes the world’s only composite shipping containers, which are half the weight of regular steel containers. The resistance to corrosion makes them more durable, and they also save companies shipping costs.

“When you ship you pay for weight,” Solano said. “This material weighs about half what a steel container would weigh. A steel one weighs about 12,000 pounds, and ours weigh about 6,000 pounds.”

The company originally intended to do all the assembly at the facility it purchased in Tennessee, but decided to locate in Selma because all the necessary equipment for the first phase of production is here.

It is purchasing the former Louisiana Pacific Building owned by the Craig Field Airport Authority, as well as the adjacent 50,000 square foot speculative building.

Vardaman said Alliance represents the 10th new business that has chosen to locate to Dallas County since 2002. The total number of new jobs in that time will rise to about 1,200.

“What they’re in need of doing is starting up immediately,” Vardaman said. “They’ll employ somewhere between 40 and 60 people this year. In year two, they will hire the balance of 175 employees.”

Alliance’s ability to produce composite 1,000 square feet housing units made of 90 percent recycled materials establishes it as a green company.

“You most certainly are going to be an environmentally friendly industry, so we welcome you to our community,” Mayor James Perkins Jr. said. “I think $25 million and 175 jobs, that’s another reason to welcome you into the community. That’s a great contribution.”

State Sen. Hank Sanders made a presentation on behalf of Gov. Bob Riley during Tuesday’s press conference.

He praised the EDA and Team Selma, a group of the city’s leaders who work together to recruit new businesses to the area.

“Team Selma has really been an extraordinary effort,” Sanders said. “I think it shows more than anything what can be done when people work together across lines of difference — whether that’s race, or whether that’s age or whether that’s gender, or class, whatever it is.”