The Economy is Hot in Auburn-Opelika
PHOTO CREDIT: Kevin Young
From technology to tires, lab furniture to lemonade, the businesses of the Auburn-Opelika area are diverse and dynamic.
That must be one reason Expansion Management magazine named it one of the Hottest Cities in America for Expanding Companies in 2004.
Of course, education is also big business here, with Auburn University being the largest employer in the area. But the university contributes to overall industry growth in other ways as well, such as through its research and technology partnership with the Auburn Economic Development Department.
This entity was created in the 1980s in order to recruit technology-based companies to the area. The result has been 4,000 new jobs and the creation of four technology parks to house the many new businesses that have decided to call Auburn-Opelika home.
Some of these companies are: Environmental Resource Analysts, which performs environmental testing; Tier Technologies, which specializes in voice response automation; and Coachcomm Wireless Communication, which provides high school and college sports teams with sidelines communication systems.
While technology is definitely on the rise here, Auburn-Opelika is also still home to the good old manufacturing industries that helped the area become a business hub in the first place. Briggs & Stratton still assembles its gasoline engines here, MasterBrand Cabinets creates kitchen and bath cabinetry and BF Goodrich still produces its quality tires here.
And unlike lots of other towns in American, Auburn’s downtown core is still a vital part of the business scene, anchored by the famous Toomer’s Drugs on Toomer’s Corner. For more than 100 years, folks have been heading to this Auburn landmark to sample some of its signature Toomer’s Special Formula Lemonade, which is now shipped all over the country.
Good things are also cooking in Opelika, where Flowers Foods, one of the top producers of packaged bakery foods in the country, operates a 75,000-square-foot bakery that produces hamburger buns, snack cakes and French rolls sold under such brand names as Nature’s Own, Cobblestone Mill and Mary Jane, helping to keep the area’s economy piping hot.