Industrial Development Board plans for future of industrial park

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 2, 2001

The Butler County Industrial Development Board (BCIDA) approved the addition of a second spec building at the Butler County Industrial Park during a meeting on Tuesday.

The new building will be approximately 50,000 square feet, which is similar to the first building constructed in the park. The second building will be built to accommodate only one tenant, and several companies have shown interest in opening a new or existing business in the new building, according to Malloy Chandler, President of the BCIDA.

"For years and years we have talked about the need for a spec building, but never did anything about it," said Mayor Dexter McLendon. "It seems to me if we build the buildings, they will come."

Email newsletter signup

The financing for the second building will be much like the first and also will be constructed by HCH Contractors. Pioneer Electric Cooperative has agreed to fund the building of the second spec building, and upon completion, the county will then request a loan from an area bank to repay the funds. At that point, the county will apply for an additional Economic Development Authority (EDA) grant to help fund the project.

The board also approved a grant application to be submitted to the United States Committee on Irrigation and Drainage (USCID) which offers a program to local governments that have recently lost jobs because of NAFTA. Because of the recent job loss in the area, Chandler said he believes the county will qualify for the $375,000 grant to make improvements to the industrial park.

Because of the interest that has been shown by several companies in occupying space at the industrial park, a suggestion also was made to begin taking bids for a third building, which then was approved by the board.

"This is an opportunity to bring in more jobs," said County Commissioner Jesse McWilliams. "Any way the county can help for development, let us know; that's what we're here for."

"(With this project) the County has an opportunity to help bring in more jobs which will increase the tax base. I think it's great," said County Commissioner Daniel Robinson.

In a related discussion, Chandler stated that the area occupied by the second spec building has undergone soil testings to determine what type of foundation will best be suited for the building. The testing was conducted by Christian Testing Lab.

The same site also has undergone a historical dig that was initiated by the historical society due to historical significance. According to Chandler, Judy Taylor of the Greenville Historical Society raised questions regarding the site because the property adjacent to the industrial park, which is owned by Montgomery Technology Inc., was once the site of an old slave house and a school.

The dig was contracted to an archaeologist from Troy State University who, after returning to Troy, reported the only finding was a bullet from a 12-gauge shotgun that was made around 1900.

The historical dig, also referred to as Phase III of the development, cost the BCIDA approximately $70,000 to ensure that the site was free of any items with historical significance.

"To use any state or federal money for this project, the historical dig has to be done. My suggestion in the future is to never buy a piece of property that has not been scrapped," stated Chandler.

In other business concerning the industrial park, the commission also approved a zero interest loan of $417,000 from Pioneer Electric Cooperative, approved a contract with HCH Contractors for Phase I speculative building and for building modifications.

Chandler also stated that the $1.7 million grant to help fund the project has recently been approved by the regional office of the Economic Development Authority (EDA), a division of Housing and Urban Development.

The grant will cover 70 percent of the project, with the remaining 30 percent coming from local funds. One condition on the EDA grant is that 30 percent of the cost of the project must come from local funds.

A second requirement of the grant is that no liens can be outstanding on the property. In order for the land to be lien-free, "Pioneer Electric bought the land and deeded it to the BCIDA," said Chandler.

In return, the BCIDA approved a loan from People's Bank for $650,000 to repay Pioneer Electric. At that point, Butler County will then own the land and will repay the bank.

In addition, a loan for $350,000 must also be taken from People's Bank to cover the local funds that are required to match the EDA grant; this was also approved.

Also topping the agenda was the approval of a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant application through the BCIDA for $15,000 to construct a heliport at L.V. Stabler Hospital. In addition to the USDA grant, an application also was submitted and approved by the Alabama Department of Aeronautics for $10,000 to aid in the construction.

"The two grants will cover the construction of the heliport," said Linda Horn of Pioneer Electric Cooperative, who has worked for two years on the project. "Horace Horn, previously of the State Division of the USDA, and Dr. John Eagerton, chairman of the Alabama Department of Aeronautics, worked very hard with me to get the funds for the heliport. I just believe it is important for the area because it is a regional hospital."

Also regarding the heliport, an engineering contract was approved for CDG Engineers of Andalusia as well as a construction contract with Randall Nicholas.

In other business, Chandler reported to the board that one of the tenants of the first spec building, Butch Thurman, owner of Thurman Tool and Molding, has expressed interest in leasing for one year and then buying the building. The purchase will enable the BCIDA to recover the funds in constructing the first spec building. However, until then, Thurman agreed to sign a 10-year lease.

The BCIDA also:

established the terms of office for officers and re-elected Chandler as chairman;

approved a $350,000 grant application to the United States Community and Adjustment Program;

approved an engineering services contract with Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood for an EDA project;

approved a consulting contract with retired Alabama EDA representative Boyd Rose;

granted permission for Chairman Malloy Chandler to sign all EDA documents;

approved purchase of five acres of land from International Paper to donate to the Georgiana Industrial Development Board to give to Image Entry to expand parking lot and building.