New businesses coming
By By Arthur McLean Managing Editor
Four new businesses are slated to open in Atmore within the next three to four months.
The largest to open in Atmore will be Gulf Winds Federal Credit Union. Based in Pensacola, the credit union was formerly the Monsanto Employee Credit Union.
Company and city officials held the company's official groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday at the corner of Church Street and Main Street in downtown Atmore.
"We're very excited to bring our credit union family to the Atmore family," said Chris Rutledge, president and CEO of Gulf Winds.
The company already has more than 800 members in the Atmore area. The credit union will be available to anyone who lives works or worships in the Atmore area.
Rutledge said Gulf Winds hopes to have a modular building open in Atmore within the next 90 days and a permanent building constructed shortly thereafter.
The company is preparing to submit plans to the Atmore Planning Commission within the week.
Three permanent employees will start with the credit union, and other employees will be rotated from other branches until staffing levels are determined, Rutledge said.
The Atmore branch will make the 7th branch for the company since it's restructuring from an employee credit union more than a year ago.
The company has about 28,000 members and handles more than $225 million in assets.
Atmore Mayor Howard Shell said the branch opening is an exciting time for Atmore. "When I was an employee at Monsanto, this credit union helped me do things like build a home, buy a car and send my children to college. Things I wouldn't have been able to do without them," Shell said.
Another new business is set to open three blocks down Church Street from Gulf Winds. Russell Sheldt, formerly one of the pharmacists at Kmart, is preparing a building for the opening of Atmore Family Pharmacy.
Atmore Family Pharmacy is expected to open Monday, with a "meet the pharmacist" day Saturday.
Sheldt is currently renovating the building he will use, which is located on 300 block of Church Street next to the Family Dollar.
Coming later will be a new Chinese restaurant that will be on an outparcel of land in front of Fred's on Lindbergh Ave.
The restaurant will be in a building yet to be constructed. The building will also have room for two other tenants. Erica Zeigler, with the developer, Barbara Ann Properties, said the company is close to signing a lease to fill one of the 1,750 square-foot spaces.
Zeigler said the building should be completed by April.
Despite store and plant closings in recent years, the new store openings show a positive outlook for Atmore. "We're always happy to see new businesses come to Atmore," said Emilie Mims, director of the Atmore Chamber of Commerce. "I think we're beginning to see to positive changes as a result of the improving economy nationwide."