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franklin county times

"Mega project" not coming to area

By Staff
Jonathan Willis
A major industrial project that officials hoped would bring 1,000 new jobs to northwest Alabama is no longer a possibility.
Magna Steyr, an Austrian subsidiary of Canadian automotive supplier Magna International Inc., had been in discussions with Marion County officials for more than a year about building an automobile assembly plant.
The company had been looking at a site in Guin near the new I-22, which has been called Corridor X.
The interstate will link Birmingham to Memphis and will be a prime location for automotive suppliers looking to enter the region, particularly since Toyota is building in nearby Tupelo, Miss.
Mitch Mays, executive director of the Franklin County Development Authority, said officials from seven counties and numerous cities that formed a coalition to offer incentives for the project, learned of the news Monday night.
"There was obvious disappointment, but then I think everyone realized how far we had come by all working together," Mays said. "This was something new and special with everyone working together. This Guin site beat out many other locations across the country."
Mays said the company's time frame for being in a plant changed and they were now looking at existing buildings rather than for a place to build.
"It was all a matter of logistics," he said.
"Their focus changed to looking for an existing building and not a green field."
Officials still believe the area is in a good position to recruit another "mega project" in the future if local governments continue to work together.
Guin Mayor Phil Seagraves told the Birmingham News that 23 cities and counties pooled resources to develop a $15 million incentive package for the project. The counties involved were Marion, Winston, Franklin, Walker, Lamar, Fayette and Pickens.
"We crossed city lines, county lines and football lines," he told the Birmingham News.
"We came together, and a company official shared with me that we would not be talking if we had not put this partnership together."
Mays said the coalition's teamwork allowed them to get in the fold for a major project that otherwise would not have considered the area.
"I am really enthused and pleased at the cooperation we had recruiting this plant and I think we will be able to call upon the coalition in the future," he said.
"It will take all of us pulling together to land a mega project, but I think we can do that at some point."