Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Baldwin Co. takes first step toward developing mega-site

It’s called a mega-site. The 3,500 acres of industrial promise in Baldwin County northeast of Bay Minette could one day be the site of an automobile plant or an aerospace factory providing thousands of jobs.
Robert Ingram, the president of the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance said, ”We are already getting companies that are looking at it and wanting information on it and considering that site a part of their process.”
The mega-site is located at the intersection of Highway 287 and I-65. There’s interstate access, CSX railroad goes through the property, and just down the road lies the Port of Mobile.
”There’s a small number of those sites, period,” Ingram said. “That number becomes even smaller when you look at the sites that are certified as shovel-ready.”
It sounds great, but the catch is the price: $10 million from the reserve fund and another $25 million in debt for the county to purchase the land. It would be the largest bond warrant the county has ever considered.
While there has been interest, no company is lined up to develop the property. Baldwin County Commissioner Tucker Dorsey said that the deal is a $35 million speculation.
”I will note vote to borrow this money without input from the state or a tenant that we can mathematically quantify,” he said.
”Sometimes opportunity means hope,” Ingram said in reply. “This site gives hope to people that were going to create high-paying jobs. That’s going to change peoples lives.”
The commission voted three to one to authorize a county bond rating. That process would determine how the county could borrow the money needed to pay for the land.

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