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Hardee addresses economic development concerns

By ZACHARY SEIFTER/ Staff Writer

 

Chilton County Commissioner Jimmie Hardee sought to answer questions about the Alabama Farm Center during a meeting on Aug. 10.

The statement he read gave answers to the numerous questions he has received about the project and the retail district.

Some of the questions that Hardee said he has received were the following:

  • What’s the cost of the Farm Center?
  • Who’s going to pay for it?
  • Why are we purchasing land?
  • Why are you not trying to recruit more industries?
  • What about ambulance services and infrastructure services for the future?

Hardee assured that everything the commission is doing is to improve Chilton County. He also said the commission is working diligently to find a solution to the ambulance and infrastructure problems that the county currently faces.

As for the questions pertaining to the Farm Center, Hardee said that the first phase will cost $150 million total. However, the county will not be paying for the whole project.

“The Farmers’ Federation, with the exception of the Exhibition Hall, is who is going to be raising the funds for the ALFA Center,” Hardee said.

Hardee then said that the project is like a puzzle.

“I recently attended an economic development meeting and was a little frustrated because I had questions and just couldn’t fully understand how recruiting retail and investments worked,” Hardee said. “… At the end of the meeting, one of the ladies attending the meeting said to us, ‘Hold up, I have something for you all.’ She handed us a box that was a 25-piece puzzle. She said when you start to get frustrated, just remember it takes all the pieces of the puzzle to get the return you want for your investment to provide the citizens of Chilton County the things and services they desire.”

Hardee said that each piece of property purchased, each dollar spent was a piece of the puzzle that is building the Farm Center and putting together the retail district. Everything has to fit into a certain place in order for the project to work. Certain pieces of land need to be purchased, a certain amount of money needs to be spent, and the commission is working to recruit different industries into the county.

Hardee’s biggest point made through his statement though was that everything that is being done is to give Chilton County a brighter future.

“My goal as a commissioner, and as well as all of the commissioners up here, is to make sure that … us and our grandchildren and great grandchildren are not burdened with debt and taxes that were created… just so that we can have some places to shop and eat and entertain our events that are coming.”