Industrial site ‘shovel ready’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 21, 2014

The City of Andalusia is one step closer to landing more industry in the Sutton Road Industrial Park, officials said Wednesday.

At a press conference held Wednesday, officials announced the industrial park has received an Alabama AdvantageSite designation, which means the park is shovel ready.

Covington County Economic Development Commission president Rick Clifton said the designation means that a business could come in and begin turning dirt tomorrow, which is vital to industry recruitment.

Ernie Cowart of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama said the designation shows that the community is making efforts to establish industry.

“Companies are allowing less time for site selection and are demanding more info upfront,” he said.

Cowart said there are only 48 other sites in the state.

Cowart said more than 600 searches are performed per day on a statewide database, which serves as a starting point for many industries wishing to locate to the state.

Officials said the AdvantageSite program requires that community economic development organizations provide documentation to a proposed industrial site, including a set of standard date related to ownership/control, environmental and geotechnical conditions, and infrastructure status.

Sites are required to meet size, zoning and accessibility requirements.

The industrial site boasts 352 acres and is located on Progress Drive, and is owned by the City of Andalusia and the Industrial Development Board of Andalusia.

Mayor Earl Johnson said there are “many, many industrial prospects looking to locate in Alabama will only look at Advantage sites.”

“We are tickled to death to be able to hang this on the wall,” he said. “This means we are ready and open for business at the Sutton Industrial Park.”

Clifton said what needs to be realized is that the city is committed to moving forward.

“The city is not committed to staying where we are,” he said. “This may not pay dividends this year. It may not pay dividends next year, but it will pay dividends.”

Clifton said Andalusia is becoming a center for business and a center for retail.

“We have to work to make it happen,” he said. “This is just another step in making that happen.”