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By Chad Fell Senior Reporter, Northwest Alabamian

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LYNN – Winston County’s mega industrial park site received a major boost this past week to go with the already ongoing development of two lots, when U.S. Congressman Robert Aderholt announced $95,000 to be used specifically for road infrastructure at the park site.

“We had put a request in for infrastructure, road and sewer and water,” noted county commission chairman Roger Hayes. He said county officials presented the request to federal officials in Washington, D.C. at least two years ago, with the application made in the spring 2008.

The application was requested from the Industrial Development Authority of Winston County working with the county commission and Northwest Alabama Council of Local Governments. On Thursday, March 12, local officials received notice by Aderholt that $95,000 had been secured through Transportation, Housing and UrbanDevelopment and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill in the fiscal year 2009 appropriations.

The $95,000 were actually included in the Omnibus Appropriations legislation passing Congress Tuesday, March 10 and will be used specifically for roadway improvements for the foundation base and pavement for the mega industrial park site, according to Aderholt

“This is a big win for our community,” Aderholt said. “Economic development is so important for our area to make sure we have good and stable jobs. Ensuring infrastructure for this industrial park will bring more business to Winston County.”

The funding will flow from HUD to the county on to the Cooperative Improvement District, which is comprised of a mayor or representative of each of Winston County’s five municipalities including Haleyville, Double Springs, Addison, Arley and Lynn and county commission.

“Right now, to our understanding, there is no match to this,” said Grady Batchelor, president of the Industrial Development Authority of Winston County Alabama. Officials will be checking in the coming weeks to see if the funding requires a local match, Batchelor said.

Also, officials will be checking into specific HUD requirements to see specifically how the HUD appropriation can be used at the park site. “We may be able to use part of the money or all of the money to help pay for road infrastructure work that has already been done,” Batchelor said, “which would allow us to divert or use our funds for more development on the park.

“If it is required to be strictly for infrastructure and we cannot use it on the existing roadwork that has been completed, then we will do additional roadwork according to the master plan that’s been laid out for the Cooperative District.”

It is hopeful the $95,000 funding can be used to further the development of CR 9 and to extend the road infrastructure into the actual park, Batchelor said.

Officials expect to receive HUD guidelines about exactly how the funding can be applied within the next 30 to 60 days. Hopefully, plans will be implemented on how to use the $95,000 toward infrastructure by around May to June, Batchelor indicated.

“Any funding we receive for specific items such as the road infrastructure, it allows us to be able to use our Cooperative District bond funds to be able to further development in the areas basically not earmarked,” Batchelor said. “In this particular case, infrastructure plays a significant role in being able to get prospects in and out of the site, to be able to see the sites and also when someone locates here, to be able to get in and out of the facility.”

Batchelor noted the infrastructure money is the number one item other than the site itself that is considered by prospects.

“I would like to thank Congressman Aderholt for his efforts on securing this money,” added Hayes. “Every bit you get, it just makes our industrial park grow that much more, and it makes it that much more attractive to industry coming in here.

“I know the economy has slowed down right now, but this way it will give us a chance to catch up…now we are beginning to get work and show good signs. This is a good effort to show the people of the county we are working on it.”

A separate roadway project funded a turning lane on County Road 9 leading a mile to the park site from Highway 13. That project, including two feet of widening on each side, adding a turning lane and resurfacing, was funded through $125,000 secured by state senator Roger Bedford through Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

The remaining costs leading up to the $250,000 total were funded through the Cooperative District’s bond issue, according to Batchelor. This funding was earmarked solely for entrance infrastructure.

The $95,000 secured by Aderholt is for infrastructure in general, meaning it can used for the actual park itself. Batchelor said there was probably about $3 million worth of road work to be done in the park. “A little every once in a while adds up to a lot in the long run,” noted commissioner Randy Tucker, whose district is affected by the industrial park. “We are just having to take small steps to get to where we want to be. Every time we get more funds it is just helping us get closer and closer to our goal to a world class industrial park here.”

Funding boosts the mega industrial park has received include $125,000 secured by Bedford through ADECA, $95,000 secured by Aderholt through HUD and $60,000 generated through timber cutting and sales to clear the property for development.

Each municipality plus county commission voted in 2007 during a landmark meeting to approve a $30,000 annual payment toward the park, with the commission to do in-kind work including grading and dirt moving to offset construction costs. “We wanted to make sure all have an equal vote on the Cooperative District,” Batchelor said. “Each member contributes the same payment. At that time, this was the amount we agreed on being $30,000 for each municipality and commission.”

The $30,000 annual payments will go toward the $2.2 million bond issue which will be spread over a 20 year period, financed through Traders and Farmers Bank, including costs of access roads to and from the park site, water, sewer, infrastructure. The bond issue primarily covers the overall development of the industrial park.

Batchelor explained slightly more was borrowed over the bond issue costs in order to pay insurance and engineering fees.

Currently, grading work is being done on developing lots 10 and 11, which are most visible from Highway 13 and will be a major attraction for prospects to visit the site. In time, property around a pond will be developed to further showcase the beauty of the landscape in the area. The lots will be suitable for a spec building sizeable for about a seven acre lot, officials said.

When revenue exceeds bond payment, excess revenue will be evenly distributed between the five municipalitie and county commission. As industrial park revenue increases, revenue supplied toward the park by the municipalities and commission will be reduced.

Hourly wages paid to workers at the industrial park will go toward an employment assessment fee of about one percent to offset bond issue costs, which was approved by the District at a recent meeting. A franchise fee can also be applied on utilities generated at the park. “The District cannot access taxes but can access fees,” Batchelor noted. Reprinted with permission of the Northwest Alabamian. Original publication date was March 21, 2009.

Related news: Congressman Aderholt Announces Federal Funds for Winston County Industrial Park Transportation Improvements

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