The Morgan County Industrial Park and Economic Development Cooperative District is expanding its reach from the I-65 corridor to the entire county.
Morgan County Economic Development Association president Jeremy Nails said the move was meant to offer more flexibility in attracting new businesses and industry to the county. The focus of the cooperative district was originally formed to focus on the areas located within five miles of I-65.
The district, which formed around 2008, took out a $16 million bond issue to build the Morgan Center Business Park in Hartselle. Nails said $7.9 million of that is still available, and the cooperative district wants to look at other areas of the county.
“It just gives us greater flexibility to develop other areas of the county that would be attractive to business and industries,” Nails said. “By removing the earmark for the money, it opens the funding up to use in other areas of the county.”
Nails said the $7.9 million would be used to purchase land and install utilities to make the site “ready to build.” The Morgan Center Business Park was finished in November 2011 and is complete with water, sewer, electricity and high-speed Internet.
Hartselle Mayor Don Hall said that the Morgan Center Business Park is currently listed on the Alabama Economic Development Board’s website under its sites that are ready to build.
“I think this is something that will help everyone in the county,” Hall said. “If a business locates in the county, it will mean more jobs for workers across the county, including Hartselle.”
Hartselle Councilman Tom Chappell said removing the earmark would give Nails “another ace in his pocket” to attract new businesses.
Hartselle and Priceville Town Council approved a resolution to amend the certificate of incorporation of the Morgan County Industrial Park and Economic Development Cooperative District at its regular meeting Monday night.
Priceville approved the change Monday night. The Hartselle City Council considered the measure Tuesday night.
The Morgan County Commission, Falkville and other municipalities have already approved the measure.
“I think it’s a good move,” Priceville Mayor Melvin Duran said. “Anytime we can bring in a new industry and create more jobs, it’s good for Morgan County no matter where it’s located.”
With the approval of the governing bodies of eight other cooperative district members, the cooperative district will be expanded to cover the entire county. The current articles of incorporation limits funding for industrial development projects to five miles on either side of I-65.
The Hartselle Enquirer: By- Brent Maze and Clif Knight