Thursday, September 29, 2005

Marshall moving forward
• Manufacturing/warehousing growth takes hold

Staff Writer

Developers are looking at new opportunities for industry and warehousing in Marshall County’s Expanded Chickasaw Trails Industrial Park every week, according to Bill Renick, executive director of Marshall County Industrial Development Authority.

Several projects on the ground are expected to be in operation next year with the Exel warehousing and distribution facility set to open for business January 3, 2006, he said. The warehouse, a 600 foot by 1,165 foot structure enclosing 700,000 square feet, puts the Exel facility as possibly Mississippi’s third largest plant under one roof, with Nissan in Jackson taking the top spot and Thomas & Betts in Marshall County coming in second, Renick said.

An estimated 180 trucks a day will be moving in and out of the Exel facility which will in the beginning warehouse and distribute commercial air conditioning units. An expected 150 employees will work at the facility when it is operating in full swing, according to Renick.

The plant site has enough space to double the warehousing capability, he said.

A 140-acre site next door to Exel sold to a design and build company recently, Renick said.

A Case International manufacturing facility, Midsouth Ag Equipment Inc., has completed dirt work to the southwest of the Exel site on Highway 302.

Owner Gary Reid said there are three primary factors that caused his 20-year-old company to decide to relocate to Marshall County.

“The first is growth,” he said. “We needed additional space in both property and buildings. Second, we were not real happy in the city limits of Memphis. Government is not favorable to us. When we first got started we were in Shelby County but were later incorporated into the Memphis city limits. We thought Marshall County would be beneficial.

“Third, the Highway 302 corridor, along with Interstate 269 coming through as we get further down the road, is attractive to us as far as getting traffic in and out and from the standpoint of visibility as well.”

Reid said many of his company’s current employees and many new hires come from the work pool in North Mississippi.

“Many of my employees have already moved to Marshall County or live in the general area,” he said.

The company employs about 50 workers and by the end of 2006, Reid expects to have 60 workers.

“I may be overly optimistic, but we hope to be ready to move by February 2006,” he said. “We will have 38,000 square feet of space up on the main platform, with parking facing 302 and storage space on the west side of the property.”

Reid expressed appreciation to the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority for their cooperation and assistance in helping relocate to the county.

“We worked closely with Bill Renick to make this move possible,” he said.

Across the highway land has been zoned for commercial use. The sites are located on or near Highway 302, Highway 72 and in the vicinity of the Interstate 269 corridor, a plus for industries needing good transportation routes.

Supplying gas, sewer and roads
Infrastructure is being laid in the Chickasaw Trails area. A privately operated sewer system is being laid extending from the Exel site southward on Mt. Carmel Road under Highway 302 to the treatment plant terminus on Dogwood Road.

Funding for paving a one-mile stretch of Mt. Carmel Road from Highway 302 to the Exel site is building. As it stands, warehouse traffic in and out of the Exel area will travel along Wingo, a road which was paved by the Marshall County Supervisors in preparation for development at Chickasaw Trails.

U.S. Rep. Roger Wicker announced Monday the approval of a $275,000 grant for the Marshall County Board of Supervisors channeled through the Appalachian Regional Commission. The ARC grant together with $262,570 in local funds and $150,000 from the state of Mississippi brings the project total to $687,570. The work involves reconstructing one mile of narrow, gravel road on Mt. Carmel Road from one-lane to a two-lane paved road. The project will provide greater access to the park and offer improved service for future industrial prospects.

The Town of Byhalia is extending natural gas lines from Quinn Road to Wingo.

Lamsal LLC, a three state development group, recently was approved for rezoning of over 100 acres of property on the south side of 302 highway and will offer commercial sites, residential sites and industrial sites. Interstate 269 will drive right through the western side of this property making it prime land for development.

Interest builds slowly
Renick said his office is seeing a lot of interest in development in the county with a proposal on the table this week. But development is still in its infancy, he said.

“This requires a lot of patience,” said Renick.

Marshall County Supervisor Keith Taylor is excited about the prospects coming to his district which will mean an expanded tax base for the county and new jobs.

He said supervisors have to do more nowadays as responsibilities have changed.

“As compared to previous days, it’s (supervisor’s work is) a lot more than just maintaining and blacktopping roads,” Taylor said. “What I like about this is we (the community) get to dictate the way growth is coming. I like the aspect of having industrial and commercial development and also the opportunity to see the rest of my district develop nice residential homes for people who like to live in the country.

“This is planned growth. When we did our comprehensive plan this was my vision of having commercial development away from residential.”

Strickland Road paving
Residents in the Strickland Road area are finally seeing their road widened and paved after many years of waiting for it.

The board of supervisors received $577,000 in State Aid road funds to clear, grade, drain and pave about 1.5 miles of Strickland Road. The gravel road runs west from Warsaw off Highway 309 to the DeSoto County line.

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