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franklin county times

County industrial prospects picking up

Industrial development in Franklin County has been at a near standstill since the economy turned sour, but officials say activity has picked up in the last couple of months due in large part to the products the county has to offer.

Franklin County Development Authority Executive Director Mitch Mays said he has shown sites and buildings to several different companies in the last few weeks.

“Franklin County has seen lots of activity and interest in the spec buildings we currently have, which tells me two things,” Mays said. “One, companies are itching to branch out and relocate so they’re exploring options for new investments. Two, we’ve created a product that companies are interested in.”

That product comes in the form of six industrial parks: Russellville Industrial Park #1, Russellville Industrial Park #2, Mike Green Industrial Park, Phil Campbell Industrial Park, Vina Industrial Park and West Franklin Regional Industrial Park located in Red Bay.

Mays said the completed spec building in Russellville and the spec building under construction in Vina are also key components in attracting industry to the area.

“In the last few weeks, I’ve had calls from a Mississippi company looking for a new facility who saw the Vina spec building on the Internet,” he said. “A warehousing and distribution company saw the Russellville spec building online and came to look at it. A European company included Franklin County in their search of the Southeast for potential locations for their facilities, and I believe they wouldn’t have even looked here if it hadn’t been for the spec buildings and available resources.”

Mays said he also believes the 55-acre spread of land recently purchased by the city of Red Bay for the development of the West Franklin Regional Industrial Park will prove very beneficial for the area.

“We hope existing industry in Red Bay will be able to use this area to expand their companies if needed instead of having to look across state lines,” Mays said. “Red Bay is also the closest location to Tupelo so we’re hoping to get several looks from the suppliers to the Toyota plant in Blue Springs, Miss.”

Red Bay councilman Brad Bolton has worked closely with Mays and officials from the Tennessee Valley Authority to develop a conceptual plan for the industrial park, which was unveiled at Red Bay’s city council meeting Monday night.

Bolton said the Franklin County Industrial Development Board accepted the plan and expressed their excitement about the opportunities that could be available as a result of the park’s development.

“TVA’s Economic Development Office created this conceptual plan so we could visualize the potential for the property and what the possibilities are,” Bolton said. “We chose not to name the property after Red Bay because we believe that whatever industry decides to locate here will benefit the county as a whole, not just our city. We want to work together to create jobs and economic progress for the whole area.”

Sen. Roger Bedford said he is proud of the way economic development in the county is going and thinks the new West Franklin Regional Industrial Park will be another asset to the county’s already rich assortment of economic incentives.

“All of the industrial parks in the county have special attributes, but one thing the West Franklin Regional Industrial Park will have is proximity to existing industry and to a major thoroughfare,” Bedford said. “The existing industries might need suppliers who could locate in the park or who might want to expand. The park is also only 18 miles from Interstate 22 and will be only three miles from the new Corridor V. This is a great thing for this county and something the city, county and industrial board should all be commended for.”

Mays said the outlook for economic development in Franklin County is as bright as it’s ever been and he hopes it continues in a positive direction.

“If you had asked me a few months ago what the outlook for our county’s economic development would be, the answer would have probably been pretty bleak,” Mays said, “but given the level of activity we’re currently experiencing, I’m very optimistic about the direction we’re headed in. The more interest we have, the better the chances are at attracting a company, and more jobs, to our area.”

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