IDA reflects on festival and finances

Published 2:37 pm Thursday, April 14, 2022

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By JOYANNA LOVE | Managing Editor

The Chilton County Industrial Development Authority discussed the “tremendous success” of the Strawberry Festival at an April 12 meeting.

IDA board chair Allen Caton thanked Executive Director Whitney Barlow for her work on the project.

Local students talent was on display through the art contest and performances by Blast From the Past students.

Barlow said the art show displayed that Chilton County has talented young artists.

The success of the promotional efforts was also discussed. Allen said the Strawberry Queens made multiple interviews to promote the events. Barlow also challenged them to take photos with strawberry related things and post it to their social media.

“They are your best ambassadors because they are excited and their parents are excited,” Barlow said.

She said efforts were made to purchase everything locally for the festival, but a few things had to be purchased from outside the county.

Proceeds from the event were estimated at $21,000, which Barlow commented would likely be $5,000 less than what was spent once all the bills were paid.

Given the success of the event, the board was all right with that considering it “money well spent” to promote agriculture and the community.

Barlow said next year, more sponsors and grants could be secured to ensure the full cost was covered.

Continuing this momentum for agri-tourism throughout the county will be a focus throughout the year.

Also during the meeting, member Bobby Cook gave an update on the authority’s finances. Two CDs were recently renewed with $265,914 invested in one and $39,079 invested in the other. One had an annual percentage yield of .60%, and the other one had an annual percentage yield of .40%.

As of Jan. 30, the IDA also had $14,796 in a marketing account and $693,284 in a business account.

The board later approved a $1,000 sponsorship for peach jam and a full page ad in the Clanton Lions Club Peach Pageant program.

Board member and Maplesville Mayor W.C. Hayes asked how much money had been generated from selling the timber cut in the second phase at the proposed Alabama Farm Center site. The proceeds had been $60,000. (The first phase of timber had been sold for $79,000.)

Several development or expansion projects in the beginning preliminary stages were briefly mentioned. Barlow said she was talking to one industry about grants that they may be eligible for.