By Todd Stacy, Alabama Daily News
The Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation has selected Chilton County for the site of its planned Alabama Farm Center, a 5,000 seat, 150,000 square foot, multi-function event facility.
The Chilton County Industrial Development Board made the announcement Tuesday at Clanton City Hall.
The center will attract rodeos, dog shows, livestock shows and festivals year round. Local economic developers estimated the space could create as many as 400 jobs in the Clanton area and as much as $55 million annually in economic impact.
“Today, we embark on a journey that will long impact the future generations of agriculture,” said Chilton County Commission Vice Chairman Matt Mims. “We are excited to finally be bringing to fruition a project that will forever change Chilton County and Central Alabama.”
The Alabama Farmers Federation, which operates the Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation, has been exploring the idea of building a state-of-the-art event space for a few years. President Jimmy Parnell said he believes the new facility will be the “premier livestock and event center in the South.”
“Chilton County’s central location, proximity to large cities and access to I-65 make this site ideal for the Alabama Farm Center,” Parnell said. “There are few comparable ag centers in the United States, so this is a great opportunity for Alabama and Chilton County to attract visitors from across the region and country. As the Alabama Farmers Federation prepares to celebrate its centennial in 2021, our board of directors has cast a vision to make the Alabama Farm Center “the premier livestock and event center in the South.”
A 500-acre parcel owned by the City of Clanton and Chilton County was chosen from about a dozen sites vying for the project. It is located on the east side of Interstate 65 at Exit 212 between Alabama Hwy. 145 and County Road 43.
“We would like to thank the Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation for recognizing the value that Chilton County holds in the agricultural sector of our economy,” said Whitney Barlow, Executive Director of the Chilton County Industrial Development Board. “It is critical that we invest in our youth and enable them to reach their full potential with opportunities in career tech/ workforce development, livestock skills, acquiring leadership responsibilities, as well as other experiences needed to be successful and productive.”
Clanton Mayor Billy Joe Driver also celebrated the announcement, saying the new center will bring new tourism dollars to his city.
“With the potential average attendance around 800,000 per year Central Alabama is sure to see an influx from the hospitality industry. This project will be a catalyst for growth and development for us all.”