Access road could bring industry

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The county is one step closer to hopefully securing its next manufacturing company after commissioners approved a bid Monday for an industrial access road into the South Alabama Regional Airport.

County engineer Darren Capps said four companies submitted bids to construct the road, which will run from U.S. Hwy. 84 to a vacant hangar that was designated to be the new home for Nano Materials Manufacturing Machine.

Lowest bid for the project came in from Grady Rawls and Sons at $213,149. Last June, the county was awarded a $296,200 grant from the Alabama Industrial Access Road and Bridge Authority for the project.

Capps said the state has given the county authority to award the contract.

SARA co-director Jed Blackwell said the airport has leased the 7-acre parcel and facility to Nano, which was operating out of the county’s business incubator facility at the airport; however, due to the recent death of the owner, family members are working with the CCEDC to find a new tenant for the facility.

County economic development director Tucson Roberts said the lack of an entry into the property has been a major deterrent for prospective businesses.

“I’ve had 22 prospects look at the property and the hanger, and there’s no way to get employees into the parking lot without an access road,” Roberts said. “I think the state recognizes that we need this road to market the facility.”

The new facility is located off U.S. Hwy. 84, just west of Sitel and across from Covington Electric Cooperative.

At the time of the grant award, Speaker of the House Seth Hammett said the grant was important to the county and its emphasis on bringing high-tech, high-wage jobs to replace job losses in the textile industry.

“We are working every day to make sure those who want to live and work in Covington County can earn a decent living for themselves and their families,” Hammett said previously.

Blackwell said Monday, the new road “will greatly enhance the facility’s marketability and enable NANO to either operate in the facility or find a new tenant.”

It is unknown when work will begin on the project.

In other business, the commission:

• appropriated $3,000 to the Alabama High School Rodeo Association to host the annual tri-state rodeo.

• recognized the passing of county road department employee, Buck Roberts.