Thursday, April 28, 2011
Director describes IDA’s role
By SUE WATSON
Bill Mobley, executive director of the Marshall County Industrial Authority, was guest speaker at Rotary April 13. He described how IDA was organized and its present activities and role.
The original IDA was signed into law by Gov. Bill Allain in 1984 and had a 15- member board. But in 1990, Gov. Ray Mabus signed into law the current legislation that authorizes Marshall County to operate an industrial development authority led by a 13-member board.
Each supervisor appoints a director, each school district has a representative, two members must be residents of Holly Springs, one resident each from Potts Camp and from Byhalia are on the board and the mayor of Holly Springs appoints two directors.
In this manner there is much opportunity for participation from over the county. The role of IDA is to increase the tax base by developing properties in the area and to increase the local economy by producing jobs, Mobley said.
Chickasaw Trail Industrial Park, a 3,600-acre park in the northwestern portion of the county, is Marshall’s megasite and the location where large industry and warehousing is settling. It is located near major transportation sectors – particularly close to interstate or four-lane highways.
Much of the job of attracting industry to the county is in the hands of the Mississippi Development Authority and the Tennessee Valley Authority, Mobley said, two important state and national economic development authorities with the resources to attract large clients.
IDA also has responsibility for the Holly Springs/Marshall County Airport and in recent years has received support from the Federal Aviation Administration and Mississippi Department of Transportation to buy properties and build a taxiway and to build a fuel farm. Mobley said IDA hopes to extend the 3,200-foot runway to 5,000 feet so prospective land developers and industrial clients can fly corporate jets directly to the county.
Today, funds to operate IDA come from the city of Holly Springs and Marshall County governments, each budgeting $10,000 a year to run the airport.
The Chickasaw Trail mega-site has added 1,000 acres since Mobley came on as director. Two large warehouses, Exel which serves as warehousing/distribution for the Carrier air conditioning facility in Collierville, Tenn., was the first large customer at Chickasaw Trail. ASICS, which is ready to occupy a 500,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution facility, is set for a soft opening in June and a hard opening in August. The company expects to add another 650,000 square feet in Phase II and begin construction in 2012 or 2013, Mobley said.
A new interstate – I-269 – is scheduled to be built right through the park starting at the state line and coming through the park to Highway 302. MDOT has taken bids on the corridor from Dogwood Road to the state line. A 3.7- mile, single-lane segment of Highway 72 is scheduled to be four-laned with bids to be let next year, Mobley said.
“We’re going to get it; we’re going to do it,” he said. “They are buying property now.”
Mt. Carmel Road, an important road that will serve both Exel and ASICS, connects Wingo Road to Highway I-269, and awaits MDOT to tie it into the interstate.
ASICS has invested $27 million and will employ 200 in the current facility.
Byhalia provides the gas, Marshall County Water Association provides the water, Marshall Utility Services provides the sewer and Northcentral Electric Power and TVA provide the power to the park. Mobley said landowners got together to construct the Marshall Utility Services sewer system in order to develop the land - that a sewer system is not a money maker as a utility.
“But we have to have it to develop the land,” he said.
IDA and the county looks to the Mississippi Legislature for help in laying a sewer system to two mobile home parks at Cayce and Highway 72. Mobley said the county would have to charge residents more than they can afford to borrow money to build the sewer to the aging mobile home park whose lagoon system is no longer adequate. Once built, residents will be charged $25 a month just for the sewer treatment, he said. Their home incomes will not bear a sewer bill much higher, he said.
Although Chickasaw Trail is outright the largest and brightest spot for industrial development, there are important areas elsewhere in the county, Mobley said. Those include Rabbit Ridge Industrial Park – a 150-acre site in Byhalia that would be suitable for a Tier II supplier for the Blue Springs Toyota Assembly plant.
IDA has an 82-acre park in Holly Springs that has rail access.
Two businesses in Holly Springs are making important expansions – Contract Fabricators Inc. and KP Vinyl, Mobley said. These expansions will increase job opportunities in the area.
Mobley said IDA cannot do all the work on its own.
“We rely on TVA and MDA to bring us prospects,” he said. “They feel we are the next hot spot in Mississippi.”
The strong points are access to Highway 78 in Byhalia, proximity to Memphis and proximity to the Blue Springs development, he said.
“When I first came we had no prospects and no proposals,” Mobley said.
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