Thursday, March 15, 2007
Industry eyes expansion
By SUE WATSON
With growth in some hometown industries and the prospects of new economic development waiting in the wings due to the new Toyota assembly plant coming to Union County, the Holly Springs mayor and board of aldermen discussed last week how to involve the city in more projects.
First off, Bill Renick, executive director of the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority, and officials with CIT (Cash In Transit) approached the board about a move into the old WENCO building at the Holly Springs Industrial Park.
CIT partner Teresa Hubbard said the armored vehicle business has had several opportunities to expand and has turned down orders because of lack of space.
Renick asked the board of aldermen for a resolution to apply for a CAP (Capital Access Program) loan for $525,000 from Mississippi Development Authority to get the WENCO building ready for occupancy. He said the loan would be used like the recent CAP loan the city approved for improvements at the American Plastic Toys building that is now home to Lund Precision Group.
CAP loans are alternative loan programs offered at the state level and can be used for purposes similar to the Small Business Loan.
“The passage of the resolution is the first step, not binding,” Renick said, adding that a four-week period would be sufficient time to consider any concerns.
Municipalities may apply to MDA for one community development block grant CAP loan a year, he said.
“Their (CIT’s) partner is pulling substantial investment into the building, too,” Renick said. “The building has to be brought up to state codes. We have looked at it pretty closely and would like to see what you can do.”
Hubbard said CIT, which has been used in recent times by Alpine, would be made available fairly quickly by WENCO.
CIT now employs 17 and would add 7 new jobs almost immediately, she said.
“The building would give us an opportunity to do twice as much business as now in two years,” she said.
CIT has been in business in Holly Springs for five years and builds armored trucks, cars and SWAT vehicles.
The board voted unanimously for the resolution following a motion by alderman Russell Johnson and second by alderman Nancy Hutchens.
DeBerry said he would go to Jackson (last week) to look at a $110 million workforce development plan in the state Legislature. Eighty million of that is proposed to be funnelled through the state’s junior colleges for workforce development and $30 million would go to training of hires at supplier companies for the Toyota assembly plant, expected to be open in 2009, he said.
He will propose that Holly Springs be leveraged as a workforce training center for employees in quality control at Toyota’s supplier companies.
He said the unoccupied Mulay building would be “perfect for some suppliers.”
“Right now the iron is hot and people are positioning themselves,” DeBerry said. “I think the county and city would be well served. There are soft monies out there and hopefully we could get money to build a facility to expand Information Technology.
DeBerry said the city is also supporting a bond for $250,000 for expansion of the Marshall County Library and for $900,000 to develop the old Chalmers Institute building.
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