The History of Jeff Met McCalla in Jefferson County’s Industrial Landscape

In the late 1990s, the Jefferson County Economic and Industrial Development Authority (JCEIDA) embarked on a mission to develop the Jefferson Metropolitan Park System, leading to the birth of Jeff Met McCalla. Under the guidance of former Executive Director Deborah McGill Smith, Sain Associates was tasked with creating a masterplan for the park. The strategic acquisition of approximately 700 acres of land from various owners paved the way for the park’s establishment, which the Metropolitan Development Board had previously identified as a key industrial site in the Birmingham region.

The industrial park boasts a diverse range of businesses, with a particular focus on automotive suppliers for Mercedes in Vance. Over the years, Jeff Met has significantly impacted the local economy and job market, attracting over $4 billion in capital investment and creating over 5,000 jobs. Notable successes include hosting significant projects like the $1.2 billion Smuckers Plant and Gulf Distributing. Sain Associates’ pivotal role in planning, designing, and supporting project selection within the park has been instrumental in its success, ensuring that the original masterplan vision from 1998 has been brought to life.

The masterplan didn’t come without its challenges. Over a few days, our team, which included Sain Associates engineers, economic development staff, the consultant team, county commissioners, and utilities staff, prepared the masterplan at a local golf course club house. Obstacles included incorporating Norfolk Southern rail access along the southern boundary and connecting roadway access from Old Tuscaloosa Highway and the McAshan Drive extension to Eastern Valley Road. Another obstacle included minimizing impacts and planning development around approximately 80 acres of wetlands. In addition, sewer infrastructure was being constructed in the project area by Jefferson County Environmental Services and integrating that work in the development of the park was a key component.

With its prime location, top-notch facilities, and strong workforce resources, Jeff Met McCalla, which is a Class A park, stands out as one of the top industrial parks in Alabama. The park’s evolution, including the recent expansion with the addition of 600 acres hosting prominent businesses like Smuckers and Gulf Distributing, underscores its continuous growth and appeal to businesses. Looking ahead, the long-term impact of Jeff Met on the local community and economy remains promising, thanks to visionary leadership from JCEIDA – from the beginning with Deborah McGill Smith to its current executive director Othell Phillips. Our team is proud of our participation in shaping a prosperous future for western Jefferson County.