FLORENCE — The Shoals Industrial Development Committee appears to favor dedicating some $6.7 million of a local economic development fund toward the purchase of available industrial park property.
Committee members said Thursday a proposal from the Shoals Economic Development Authority to buy that land makes sense.
The committee simply wants to be certain money from the Shoals Economic Development Fund that would go toward purchasing the land is returned to the fund if SEDA sells the property.
“It’s imperative that SEDA has ownership of the property,” said Sheffield Mayor Ian Sanford, a member of the committee. “That allows them more freedom and ability to make decisions about the property.”
Last year, SEDA officials proposed having the funds dedicated toward purchasing some 1,100 acres of available local public industrial parks property.
SEDA President Forrest Wright said the move would allow SEDA officials to avoid having to approach individual entities every time an industry expresses interest in property. He said, for example, one recent expansion had to be discussed at five separate meetings. That wouldn’t have been necessary if SEDA or the committee owned the land.
Entities that own the public parks are under no obligation to sell the property, Wright said.
The development committee is in charge of distributing money from a half-cent sales tax that took effect Aug. 1, 2007. The money is earmarked solely for economic development. Committee members are comprised of local elected officials from the Shoals’ four main cities and Colbert and Lauderdale counties.
Wright told the committee he would recommend to the SEDA board that any assets from the sale of the industrial park property would be returned to the fund. He said he believes board members will favor that plan.
“That was our intention all along,” Wright said. “What the committee wants is to have it in the resolution, and that’s a good idea.”
SEDA’s next regular board meeting is Feb. 12. Committee attorney Jimmy Hughston said the committee could call a meeting to authorize the proposal if the SEDA board approves it.
Bernie Delinski can be reached at 256-740-5739 or bernie.delinski@TimesDaily.com.