Bush Hog getting local support

Published 9:03 pm Thursday, January 22, 2009

Local officials continue to work hand-in-hand with public and private entities to protect nearly 600 jobs at Bush Hog LLC, which are viable to the Black Belt region.

But rising above speculation and rumor have proven difficult, as company officials remain tight-lipped about plans for the future. The company, which makes brush cutters, zero-turn lawnmowers and UTVs at plants in Selma and Telford, Tenn., placed its workers on furlough Jan. 5. Company officials said the move was to “adjust inventory to demand.”

“Some in the community feel like local leadership is not doing anything,” said Wayne Vardaman executive director of the Selma & Dallas County Economic Development Authority. “That is simply not true. We have communicated with Sen. Hank Sanders, Sen. Artur Davis and other local and state officials seeking help for Bush Hog.”

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Vardaman made his remarks during the Centre for Commere’s annual dinner held Thursday at the St. James Hotel.

Vardaman said he has worked with Bush Hog management about options related to the possible sale of the company.

“We’ve been working very closely with Bush Hog even to the point of bringing an investor to the table that might be interested in purchasing the company,” he said. “We will continue to work with the company through the process and identify any and all incentives that are available on the state level.”

But Vardaman admitted that state-level incentives are generally only for new companies that locate in the state, not for existing companies to help keep them viable.

“But there may be some things we can still do that we’re exploring,” he said.

Officials at Bush Hog did not return phone calls for comment.