CHEROKEE, Alabama — Chicago-based FreightCar America Inc. announced plans today to expand railcar production in Alabama as part of a $10 million project that will create 150 to 200 jobs in Colbert County.
FreightCar America said it plans to launch an additional production line at the operation in Cherokee, allowing it to meet growing demand for its new types of railcars. When the new line is full operational in the second quarter of 2015, the Alabama facility will have the capacity to build 6,000 to 8,000 railcars annually, the company said.
The project is a boost to FreightCar America’s Alabama operation, pushing total investment to $33 million and bolstering a workforce that already numbers 500, according to the Shoals Economic Development Authority.
“FreightCar America has successfully diversified the company with a number of new railcar types, which have been well-received in the marketplace,” said Joe McNeely, the company’s president and chief executive officer. “A major part of this achievement has been the decision to manufacture railcars at the state-of-the-art Shoals facility.”
McNeely said Retirement Systems of Alabama, the state’s pension fund, and AIDT, the state’s job-training agency, have been key supporters of the company’s Alabama operation. He credited Governor Robert Bentley, the Shoals Economic Development Authority and the Shoals community with extending a helping hand to his company.
“We look forward to these valued relationships as we grow and make FreightCar America a long-term valuable member of this community,” McNeely added.
FreightCar America began operations in a portion of Navistar Inc.’s manufacturing facility in the Barton Riverfront Industrial Park in July 2013. The expansion means FreightCar America will occupy one-third of the vast industrial complex.