CCEDC: Good time for county

Published 7:16 pm Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Economic developers have active projects, renewed interest

The Covington County Economic Development Commission markets the county at trade shows across the nation, and helps connect area businesses in hopes they can support each other.

CCEDC President Rick Clifton updated the county commission on its work Tuesday, and said there are still potential projects in the works.

The biggest project in 2018 was Shaw’s $250  million expansion, he said.

“We worked closely with the Covington County Commission to get that project done, and it was a big one,” Clifton said. “A $250 million project does not come along very often. It may have been the biggest project in the Southeast part of the state. That project was securing 1,000 jobs for our future.”

From that project, the county needs to go forward, Clifton said.

“That was sort of our base,” Clifton said. “When we think of other projects, we think of Yulista and Dyncorp at the airport. Those were both big projects and they take the financial burden off of the county.”

The county helped finance the construction of economic development facilities at the airport. Lease payments pay the notes on those facilities. When the buildings aren’t leased, those payments come straight from tax dollars.

Last summer, CCEDC had eight active projects, which is unheard of, Clifton said.

“We probably haven’t had eight active projects in the previous four years,” Clifton said. “So, things are looking up for Covington County. There is a lot more activity, but it takes a while for that activity to lead to a groundbreaking.”

Clifton said many of those eight projects are still in the works.

“What you’ll find is that during a project, they will get all in a hurry and they’ll want all of this information,” Clifton said. “Then you’ll give them all of this information and it takes them forever to get back. I think I may have told the commission one time, that Seth (Hammett) told me that Airbus was a nine-year project. I have told you guys before that economic development is more of a marathon than a sprint, and a ground breaking is the last thing in the project.”

CCEDC tries to promote Covington County in everything they do, Clifton said.

“We can sit in our office and never get a phone call,” Clifton said. “So, it is up to us to go out and market our county.”

Clifton said that one way they market the county is by going to trade shows.

“Jacob Morgan is out at the poultry show in Atlanta this week, because there are people there that manufacture equipment for the poultry industry and they are looking into expanding, so we want them to know where we are and what we can do for them,” Clifton said. “Jacob also went to a gun show, and you ask why did he go there? Well Kimber Manufacturing, a firearms maker, was at this show and they are expanding into Troy. So, we talk with them to try and get them in touch with people in Opp for machines. We also talked with Ben E. Keith to get him in touch with Huhtamaki for packaging services. We aren’t just trying to market to people out of the state or out of the country, we are trying to put people together locally so they can help each other.”

The economic development commission is also the representative agent of Covington County for grants.

“Let’s say if LBW wanted to get a grant for a new nursing project, they propose that grant and we vote on it as the county representative at our regional development meeting,” Clifton said. “So if there is a project that goes through our county, and that project requires state action, we are the registering agent for that project.”

Covington County Commission Chairman Greg White said that on the Feb. 26, the commission will host a ground breaking and a formal announcement for an economic development project for which the county recently purchased property.