Northside Kmart

Former northside Kmart building

Several economic development projects in the Wiregrass are now bearing fruit while others could be waiting in the wings. Meanwhile, officials are working to find homes for buildings left vacant due to recent retail bankruptcies.

Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce President Matt Parker confirmed Tuesday that Rural King, a farm supply store based in Illinois, will occupy the old Northside Kmart building on Highway 431 at Ross Clark Circle. No timetable is set for its opening.

According to the store’s website, Rural King sells basic farm supplies as well as outdoor workwear, power tools, lawn and garden items, pet supplies, and guns, among other items. The company has 108 locations. Dothan would be the store’s second Alabama location, the first being its most recent new opening in Florence.

The store plans to hire about 125 workers. A job market will be announced soon to begin the process, Parker said.

Parker addressed recent economic development efforts during a quarterly address Tuesday to the Dothan City Commission. He said the Chamber and others are currently marketing the two Winn Dixie locations recently closed on the south side and U.S. 84 West, as well as the recently vacated Toys-R-Us building near Wiregrass Commons Mall and the Gander Mountain building north of the Dothan Pavilion.

“We feel good about those locations. The traffic counts are good around them,” Parker said.

The grocery stores may need to be repurposed for other uses due to the competitive grocery market in Dothan, Parker added

He also touted the work being done at International Beams and Gateway Tire, two of the most recent additions to Dothan’s industrial portfolio.

Additionally, an informal groundbreaking recently took place for the refrigerated food storage and distribution facility to be built near the intersection of Westgate Parkway and Technology Drive. A more formal ceremony could happen in the future, but Parker said the owners have a fast timetable to begin business there. There will also be a groundbreaking Monday for the new Chick-fil-A restaurant on Highway 84 East near Southeast Alabama Medical Center.

Meanwhile, the city is currently marketing several projects that could bear fruit soon:

» Three hangars are available for industrial use at Dothan Regional Airport. Parker said regional officials have been marketing the hangars to the aviation industry.

“We feel like something is going to pop on that. We’re hitting that very hard,” Parker said.

» The city is courting two active projects for possible location at the distribution park in south Houston County. It could be this fall before those projects are short-listed, he said.

» Industrial development officials will soon ask for economic support for a project scheduled to locate at the old West Point Stevens building in Abbeville. The project is expected to create around 100 jobs.

» Dothan continues to market the old Nypro building near the Sony property to the injection molding market.

“Having the technical workforce still in our market is a big plus,” Parker said.

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