Greene County IDA receives grant from Alabama Power Company

Alabama Power’s Business Office Manager of Greene County, Susie Harris, and the GCIDA members present at the September 2019 meeting. Seated: Vice Chair Tiffany Grisby, Member Calvin Knott, Member Darrow Jones and Member Debbie Duncan Standing: Treasurer Ralph Banks, III, Member Luther Winn, Chairman Danny Cooper accepting check from Susie Harris, and Secretary John Zippert.

By John Zippert,
Co-Publisher

At its regular meeting on Wednesday, September 18, 2019, the Greene County Industrial Development Authority (GCIDA) received a contribution of $1,000 to advance its work in bringing economic development to the county.
Danielle Kimbrough, Alabama Power public relations officer for west Alabama, at Tuscaloosa, said, “We help bring industrial and commercial customers to our area, which in turn brings jobs, tax revenues and improvement in the overall quality of life. Donations to organizations like GCIDA, allow us to help communities have resources to grow their communities.”
Phillis Belcher, Executive Director of the GCIDA said, “We appreciate the support of companies like Alabama Power Company to assist us in our basic mission of bringing development and jobs to Greene County,”
Belcher pointed out that the GCIDA has a 1000 acre Crossroads of America Industrial Park at Boligee, which is served by Interstates 20 and 59, railroads running north and south and east and west to connect to anywhere in the nation and access to the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway for barge traffic to the Port of Mobile and inland river parts across the nation.
“We have two major industrial companies, located in our Crossroads Park.
These are EPPCo, a petroleum products distributor that has a Waterway port and West Rock, a paper company, which has a warehouse on the interstate highway. We are always looking for new industries to come and locate in our park or other industrial locations around the county,” said Belcher.
Belcher pointed out that the GCIDA has been instrumental in helping to recruit and support Love’s Truck and Travel Store company, to locate its truck stop at the Interstate 20/59 Exit 40, in Eutaw. GCIDA assisted the City of Eutaw in securing over a million dollars in grant and loan support to bring sewage to the Love’s site and make other site and lighting improvements.
“This commercial development will bring 43 jobs and new tax revenues to Eutaw and Greene County. It also opens up the Exit 40 area for other needed development,” said Danny Cooper, Chairperson of the GCIDA.
At Wednesday’s meeting the board heard from Donnie Wedgeworth, owner of Consolidated Catfish Producers, the catfish processing plant on Highway 43 in Eutaw. Wedgeworth stated his interest in working closely with the IDA in future development of his catfish processing business.
At the meeting the GCIDA discussed various projects and prospects that are considering Greene County. A hemp processing company is interested in lease-purchasing the 50,000 square foot Speculative Building, which stands empty in the Crossroads of America Park. A railroad company is negotiating to store railroad cars on a temporary basis on tracks in the park. Other wood products industry prospects have visited the park in the past year to see if it was suitable and useful for their future plans.
Phillis Belcher said, “We have one great challenge remaining to make our Crossroads of America Park attractive to industrial prospects. We do not have a natural gas pipeline serving our industrial park. We have met with many industrial prospects for whom this was a ‘deal breaker’. We need access to natural gas for industries that need gas heat in their industrial processes.
“We have been working on exploring ways to bring natural gas to our Crossroads Park. The nearest gas sources are 15 to 20 miles away and the cost of constructing a large diameter pipeline to serve our Crossroads Park is estimated in the $15-20 million dollar range. We have asked for help from Spire, the gas company serving our area and our state and Federal public officials. The GCIDA is continuing to work on this challenge.”

Greene County IDA cosponsors dinner and barge trip to promote waterway links for industrial development

Phillis Belcher and Tiffany Gribsy talking to John Laney, Mayor of Demopolis

The Greene County Industrial Development Authority together with the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority and the Marengo County Economic Development Authority sponsored a catfish dinner and barge ride last week to promote waterway transportation as a key element of an industrial and economic development strategy for the area.
Phillis Belcher, Executive Director of the GCIDA, indicated, “Greene County has a thousand acre, Crossroads of America Industrial Park at Boligee, that is served by the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, the Interstate Highway System, Colonial Pipeline and major railroads. We have one petroleum storage and distribution business in our park, which has a docking and loading facility on the waterway.”
“We supported this dinner and barge trip to promote our industrial park, which has sites for several potential industries, to insure that state and Federal officials as well as private industry representatives are aware of Greene County and other neighboring sites in the Black Belt. Greene County is surrounded by waterways and rivers. The Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway is our eastern boundary; the Black Warrior Tombigbee Waterway borders our county to the west. We also have the Sipsey River, which is not channelized to our north.”
The dinner on Thursday night, May 26, 2017 was held at the Demopolis Civic Center and attended by 100 public officials from Greene, Marengo and Hale counties. Greene County Commissioners Lester “Bop” Brown and Allen Turner attended as well as Mayor McAlpine and City Council members from Forkland. Several GCIDA Board members including: Dr. Warren Burke, Teresa Beeker and John Zippert also attended the dinner.

On Friday morning, a group of 40 people, boarded a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredging and maintenance barge, docked in Demopolis for a three hour trip on the river system. The barge, which is generally used to maintain the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway, took the group from the dock down river to the Demopolis Lock and then back north to the confluence of the Black Warrior and Tombigbee Rivers and five miles, up the Black Warrior Tombigbee Waterway.
Mitch May, Director of the TTWDA, based in Columbus, Mississippi said his organization was “a four state compact of Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky to promote development of industrial and recreational sites along the waterway in cooperation with the state, Federal and local governments, like the Greene County IDA.”
Danny Hensley of the USACoE office in Tuscaloosa, pointed out during the barge ride, “that you can go anywhere East of the Mississippi on the waterway systems; and that the Tennessee Tombigbee and Black Warrior Waterways are a reliable, dependable and cost effective way to ship materials within the U. S. and to international destinations through the Port of Mobile.”
Phillis Belcher, Tiffany Grigsby (Vice Chair) and John Zippert (Secretary) of the Greene County IDA participated in the barge ride.
The barge passed under the Highway 43 Bridge and went past the Demopolis Cement Plant, which relies on barge transportation to ship in raw materials and to ship out its finished products. On the trip the barge met other barges going in both directions, many fishing boats with people enjoying the water and passed many fishing camps nestled along the banks of the river. The barge travels at about 5 to 8 miles an hour depending on currents and load.
“We were not able to take the barge up the Tombigbee to the Crossroads site at Boligee because of the distance. It takes 7 to 8 hours to reach our park by barge from Demopolis. We will plan another trip from the Heflin Lock at Gainesville, on the river to Crossroads some time in the future and invite more Greene County people to experience the values of barge transportation and our location on the waterway,” said Belcher.