Florala offers first-ever retail incentives

Published 3:34 am Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The new business will located on the lot where Country Folks operated.

The new business will located on the lot where Country Folks operated.

Should get  new business, 10-15 jobs

For the first time ever, the Florala City Council agreed to offer a retail business incentive, and should get its first new construction for retail in decades in return.

The council agreed to abate two-thirds of city sales taxes for 10 years for a business Anthony King plans to open at the former location of Country Folks restaurant.

Rick Clifton, executive director of the Covington County Economic Development Commission, presented the proposed incentive plan to council members, and said it is modeled on one the City of Thomasville has used to much success, and one Andalusia has incorporated into assisting retail businesses.

“Usually, it will make a deal that is really close work,” Clifton said.

Clifton said Red Level used a retail incentive to get Dollar General to locate there, and that Walmart brought a super center to Andalusia two years earlier than it had previously planned because of incentives offered.

“I’m familiar with the project the mayor is working with,” Clifton said. “My understanding is this will help him move the project forward, and we need a project.

“One of the problems we found in the hotel study we did was that nothing was happening. If we get something happening, maybe something else will happen.”

Williamson explained to the council that King is the owner of Fletcher’s in Andalusia, and that the proposed Florala project will be a “mini Fletchers.” Fletcher’s is a convenience store, buffet restaurant and sporting goods store.

Williamson said while the 10-year period might seem long, the city would receive some sales taxes, gasoline taxes, property taxes, and taxes from tobacco and alcohol.

“The business would employ between 10 and 15 people,” he said.

King was not at the council meeting, but said in a telephone interview Monday night that Williamson’s description was a good one.

“There will be gas pumps, a convenience store, some fishing poles and tackle, and there will probably be some fried chicken in the deli,” he said.

As with Fletchers he said, he plans to keep some of the original character of Country Folks, although the existing building will be torn down for the project.

The store is expected to open in either March of 2017 or March of 2018.

Clifton said it will be located at the second-busiest intersection in Covington County, based on traffic studies.

In other business, the council:

  • Approved a new contract with the county for services at the county jail. The contract increases the daily rate for inmates by $3.
  • Agreed to pave the dirt road 11th Avenue from Martin Luther King Street going west through 10th Street at an estimated cost of $58,000; to repair and repave the driveway at the fire department at a cost of $8,525; and to share with the utilities board the cost of repairs to a street adjacent to city hall at a total cost of $4,270.