Alabama park provides spark
By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
June 26, 2004
Lauderdale County supervisors and business leaders said Friday a trip to a Birmingham, Ala., industrial park helped give them an idea of what they can accomplish with their own park.
The Jefferson Metropolitan Park is home to three automotive parts manufacturers including Oxford Automotive Inc., a company that at one time considered locating in Meridian.
The parts companies produce components for the Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance, about a 30 minutes west of Birmingham on Interstate 20/59.
Lauderdale County District 4 Supervisor Joe Norwood said the south Birmingham industrial park is comparable in size and topography to the Meridian/Lauderdale County I-20/59 Industrial Park.
Norwood, other county supervisors and representatives from the East Mississippi Business Development Corp. the county's chief economic development agency visited the park Thursday.
Jefferson Metropolitan Park was once about 700 acres of hilly farm land next to a railroad line and an interstate. Today, the park reflects a $400 million investment that has produced 1,200 jobs.
Lauderdale County District 3 Supervisor Craig Hitt said it was good to see an industrial park that is similar to the Lauderdale County park and has been used to its best potential.
He said key players in getting the industrial park developed in Alabama met weekly, kept each other up to date and held each other accountable.
Hitt said constructing spec buildings seems to draw interest to industrial parks, but he said it can be risky if the building doesn't meet the exact needs of an industrial prospect.
The Meridian/Lauderdale County park does not have spec buildings.
Wade Jones, president of the EMBDC, said the purpose of the trip was to visit a progressive industrial park with all its infrastructure in place and to see what is required to recruit industry.
Jones said Lauderdale County supervisors are eager to move forward and finalize a master plan for its industrial park.