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IDA discusses grant opportunities

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

The Industrial Development Authority board of directors focused on grants and hopes for the future during an Oct. 12 meeting.

IDA Executive Director Whitney Barlow said the county is set to receive $400,000 in competitively awarded federal funds for a drive-thru COVID-19 testing facility, which would be an arena at the future Alabama Farm Center.

“It was not money that you could have given to anything else,” Barlow said. “It also was not money you were given just because you were Chilton County. We had to apply for the grant, and we had to compete with other projects in the state.”

Cara Stallman of Grant Management, which works on grant applications for the IDA, said they are also applying for an additional $500,000 for the project. These funds would be recaptured CARES Act funds that were designated for the Community Development Block Grant program.

Board member Matthew Mims asked how soon the grant funds would have to be used. Stallman said it needed to be used as soon as was possible. However, she said they likely would have up to two years to use the funds because of delays in being able to get building materials.

Barlow said as long as the group was making an effort to use the funds, delays beyond their control should not create a problem.

Cooper thanked Stallman and her team for their work.

“We are very fortunate to have you and your team,” IDA Chair Monica Cooper said. “You all have brought money to the table.”

An update was also given on efforts to bring an incapsulated sewer system to Interstate 65, Exit 200. It is in the planning stages. Barlow said right now the discharge area needs to be determined. She said this project would qualify for an American Rescue Plan grant application.

Barlow highlighted that the project would open opportunities for development at Exit 200 and create jobs.

A separate grant program is being looked at to create an agri-tourism plan for Maplesville, Thorsby and Jemison to promote existing opportunities.

“To celebrate what is known,” Stillman said. “… Agri-tourism is a big deal, bring people from the city into the peach orchard and celebrate those things. Get people to the lakes. Sort of create a trail of destinations.”

Barlow said many of the existing opportunities have not been advertised to those outside the county.

The board unanimously approved paying the final bill for wetland service for $19,000.

Meetings for Jemison and Thorsby leadership to meet with Chad Chancellor for the next step of formulating their strategic plans was also discussed. Barlow said Chancellor was hoping to schedule both on Nov. 16. However, she said it would likely take two days.

An event for existing industry leaders throughout the county to network and talk with the IDA about ways to partner has also been planned.