IDA discusses future plans

Published 11:49 am Wednesday, May 11, 2022

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By JOYANNA LOVE | Managing Editor

The Chilton County Industrial Development Authority discussed progress on projects in the preliminary phases and the next steps for the board at its meeting on May 10.

Chairman Allen Caton said he wanted the board to have time to reflect on what was needed for the future before another executive director was hired.

In the meantime, consultant Jim Byard will continue to assist the IDA board.

The board discussed the benefits of having a full-time executive director, which the previous executive director Whitney Barlow had been, as opposed to having a part-time staff person.

Board members felt having a full-time person was important to being able to do economic development.

An immediate need is for someone to handle the bookkeeping for the IDA in the interim.

The board has only ever had one employee.

The board also discussed concerns about the future, current perceptions and that there is more than one way to measure the success of an IDA with job creation just being one of them.

During updates, Mayor W.C. Hayes talked about Maplesville trying to secure a grant for a sewer project.

For Thorsby, the IDA has applied for a grant related to the Strawberry Festival.

Caton gave updates that a land survey for a possible project and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management permit had been approved for the Exit 200 property.

Sewer management company Living Waters, which already works for the city of Jemison, will be working with the IDA on sewer for the site.

“(Living Waters) can develop a sewer system and own it,” Byard said. “They can take a sewer system that you already have and manage it, and they handle all of the permitting.”

The company works with several rural systems.

“So for a city the size of Jemison, we can pay their company to completely manage the system,” Jemison Administrator Shannon Welch said. “They are showing up every day at the plant. They maintain it. They operate it. They do all the testing that ADEM requires and handle the permitting.”

Welch said it is a good arrangement because it is less expensive for the city, and the company owns the liability.

Caton said the company is excited about working on the project. A grant has been applied for to help cover cost.

Living Waters has already begun talking to other property owners at Exit 200 about the possibility of adding them to the sewer system that will be installed.

A possible spec building for the county owned property is being researched. Caton said there are some “good opportunities.”

Also during the meeting, Caton updated the board that the IDA’s 2021 audit had been provided to the Chilton County Commission.