Opp tables CCEDC request

Published 12:03 am Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Opp City Council on Monday night agreed to take under consideration a $15,000 contribution to continue to be a part of the Covington County Economic Development Commission.

CCEDC Director Rick Clifton visited the Opp council on Monday night to give an update on the ways the organization has helped the city of Opp.

“Realize that economic development is a process,” Clifton said. “Everyone thinks it’s a big event when someone puts a shovel in the ground or has a ribbon cutting. It’s years in the making. Economic development is a marathon, not a sprint.”

Clifton said CCEDC has been working closely with the mayor.

He said contributions have included helping secure funds for Global Aerospace and Manufacturing and American Apparel.

“We’ve worked closely with new industry,” he said. “And we’ve worked with MFG probably four times to help expand their customer base.”

Clifton likened economic development to a pastor and his congregation.

“It’s kinda like church, you have to tend to your flock,” he said. “That’s what we are trying to do with our meetings on existing industry. We need to build internally. We need folks in Opp helping to build in Opp. We have to help ourselves.”

Clifton said they have been actively working on a travel center in Opp.

A travel center has been in the works for years in Opp.

In October 2012, a $2.5 million travel center was announced, but plans ultimately fell through.

Clifton said his assistant, Jacob Morgan, has contacted 12 travel centers, but has been turned down by all 12.

“It’s a process,” he said. “The people I talked to two years ago aren’t interested. Next year, they might be interested.”

Clifton said there are a lot of ways that businesses tell them no.

Clifton said getting the new access road to the site at the intersection of 331 and 84 is laying the groundwork.

“Until we get a prospect,” Clifton said. “Someone said we were too close to Evergreen. Our traffic patterns are not that close to Evergreen’s.”

Another concern is that the new GPS directions are taking people down Hwy. 52 to Samson and then through Ponce De Leon, Fla., instead of taking them through Florala to get to Panama City Beach, Fla.

Clifton asked the council to pay $15,000 with a matching $15,000 from PowerSouth for their part in CCEDC. He said the city of Andalusia contributes $20,000 with a matching $20,000, and the Covington County Commission contributes $40,000.

Additionally, Red Level and River Falls contribute a small amount of money.

“We are trying to reconnect with Florala,” he said.

Also, City Planner Jason Bryan told the council the only way that tax abatements can happen is for them to go through Clifton’s office.

Mayor John Bartholomew said he knows it does get frustrating not seeing projects come to fruition.

Davis said, “I think we should take under consideration and discuss at a later date.”