REFORM, Alabama — Nature’s Earth Products LLC plans to invest over $10.8 million in an expansion project that will double the manufacturing capacity of its environmentally friendly products at the company’s facility in Pickens County.
The Alabama Department of Commerce announced today that the growth project will add 12 new jobs to the Nature’s Earth workforce in Reform, which today numbers 33 employees. The new jobs will pay an average wage of more than $22 an hour, according to Commerce.
As part of the project, West Palm Beach, Florida-based Nature’s Earth plans to install a new production line with updated equipment that will boost efficiency at the Alabama facility.
“We are excited about doubling our production from 70,000 tons to 140,000 tons allowing us to better serve our existing customers and to open new markets for our environmentally friendly bedding and heating pellets — Feline Pine, Equine Pine, and Freedom Fuel,” said Ken Simard, the company’s CEO.
Nature’s Earth specializes in converting wood chips and bio waste into environmentally sustainable products such as pine-pellet cat litter, horse bedding and wood fuel pellets for home heating. Plans call for the Reform facility to also produce wood pellets for BBQs.
“Nature’s Earth is an important part of Reform’s economy, and it was vital for us to help the company maintain and grow its presence in the community,” said Brenda Tuck, Rural Development Manager for the Alabama Department of Commerce.
“With this expansion project, Nature’s Earth solidifies its future in Pickens County, and that’s great news.”
Commerce’s Rural Development Team began working with Nature’s Earth and the City of Reform at the beginning of the year after the city experienced a water system failure due to some major pipe leaks and an aging water tower, which threatened the continued operation at the plant.
The team collaborated with the West Alabama Regional Commission to identify potential grant opportunities with the Alabama Department of Community Affairs (ADECA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that would enable a permanent fix for the water system, as well as growth for Nature’s Earth.
“This is an opportunity for Reform to build on the partnership between Nature’s Earth and the community,” said Dennis Stripling, executive director of the West Alabama Regional Commission.
“Nature’s Earth is Reform’s largest manufacturer, and it’s exciting to see that the company is committed to expanding and creating job opportunities.”
Nature’s Earth began operations in Reform after purchasing a shuttered manufacturing facility in the rural city in 2003.
The Pickens County Commission is supporting the Nature’s Earth growth project through a 10-year tax abatement of non-educational property taxes. In addition, the project qualified for incentives through the Alabama Jobs Act.
Founded in 1992 to provide all-natural cat litter to retailers across the country, Nature’s Earth today sources raw material only from certified sustainable sawmills.
(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)