McKenzie Industrial Board Seeks to Land Industry that Would Add 200 Jobs; Estimated $8.8 Million Impact on the Local Economy
Important Points to consider
*The industrial prospect would fill an empty industrial building beside the Carroll County Airport
*McKenzie Industrial Board brought the prospect to Tennessee from another state for the company’s expansion
*Carroll County Electric would have no liability for the $1 million, the City of McKenzie said it would assume the liability
*McKenzie Industrial Board would complete all the paperwork and documentation without cost to CCED on this grant
*This is the fourth industrial prospect McKenzie Industrial Board has brought to the county. One has landed here, one is very close to a decision, and this one. One prospect looked and chose another area.
*Empty industrial buildings in Carroll County include: HIS in Bruceton, Behlen in Huntingdon, Bill Sills in Huntingdon, the 13-year old empty prospective industry building in Huntingdon, Dana at the airport, Colorite at the airport, Nestaway at the airport.
*6,000 Carroll Countians leave the county each day to work elsewhere.
By Joel Washburn firstname.lastname@example.org
HUNTINGDON (March 29) — Carroll County Electric Board approved a $122,664 donation to the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce for economic development but had little time for a proposal from the McKenzie Industrial Board to help land an industry that would employ 200 persons.
Carroll County Electric Board, with members John Mann (chairman) from Hollow Rock, Marty Hurley from Bruceton, James Halford from Atwood, and Terry Howell from McKenzie voted to approve a three-year contract with TVA to grant Carroll County Chamber of Commerce a total of $122,664 for economic development. TVA provides half of the funding. The contract equals the previous three-year contract between TVA, CCED, and the Chamber. Board member Dr. Jerry Atkins was absent.
On a unanimous voice vote, the measure was approved. Marty Hurley is the wife of Brad Hurley, president of the Chamber. She was counted as a “yes” vote.
Following the meeting, Danny Brawner, manager of CCED, said the Chamber provides a detailed list of how the TVA-CCED donations are utilized.
A contract with Alexander, Thompson and Arnold was approved in the amount of $15,640 to conduct the annual audit. That amount is up from $15,185 last year.
Brawner said the new transformer to twin the existing transformer at the Clarksburg Substation will be delivered April 24. The non-functioning former transformer was recently removed and a concrete pad will be prepared ahead of the new transformer’s delivery. Once it is installed, it will share the load with the existing transformer.
With all business conducted within five minutes, Terry Howell noted the guests from the City of McKenzie and McKenzie Industrial Board were in attendance. He asked Chairman Mann if they wanted to speak. Mann was reluctant to allow them to speak about a federal program, Rural Economic Development Loan (REDL) and Grant (REDG) programs called RedLG, that is a grant/loan for economic development projects.
Mayor Jill Holland, Gary Simmons, chairman of the McKenzie Industrial Board, and Frank Tate, executive director of the McKenzie Industrial Board requested to speak about the plan, which area utilities used to recruit industries by providing interest-free loans in counties with fewer than 50,000 population.
Mann said the board had completed its business and the RedLG program was not on the agenda. When asked if they could speak, Mann said “Not today.” After some convincing, the visitors continued with their requests and finally were able to speak over the objections of Mann.
Tate said the RedLG program would help the Chamber and municipalities to have one more tool to help recruit industries. He said the industrial prospect is interested in the former Nestaway building, located at the Carroll County Airport.
Simmons said the county is one of two counties the prospect is interested in Tennessee. It would provide 200 jobs. The RedLG program would help level the playing field with the other county, which plans to provide up to $1 million in interest-free loans to the industry through the program administered through USDA.
The company plans to make its final decision within two or three days with an announcement to the public within the next 45 days. Tate only learned earlier that day the county was no longer in first place contention for the prospect. He had given company officials a tour of the county, including the 1000-acre lake, earlier in the week. Tate said he had nine months invested in attracting the company to Carroll County and was the individual who convinced the company’s management to consider Tennessee, where there is no personal income tax. The employee pay is $14 to $16 per hour, said Tate. There are 6,000 countians who drive elsewhere each day for employment. Tate asked the board to grant a special meeting to hear the proposal from USDA officials.
Mayor Jill Holland said the city of McKenzie would assume any liability for the loan.
Mann said it was the first he had heard of the program, but Tate said he had been working with Brawner since last October concerning participation in the RedLG program. Mann sat in on a meeting with Tate and Brawner immediately preceding the Thursday meeting.
Tate asked Hurley a question and she responded, “Don’t call me out.” She accused the representatives of besmirching her husband, Brad Hurley, who she said works many hours promoting the county.
The McKenzie delegation denied any condescending comments about Mr. Hurley.
Tate said CCED at some previous time, completed the paperwork for the RedLG program, but never executed the document. He said he would complete all necessary paperwork for the new application and CCED would administer the program. CCED can charge an administration fee, said Tate, to offset any costs.
Tate said the CCED would simply serve as a conduit for the federal program. USDA has 99.9 percent success with the program, said Tate. As the funds are repaid, those funds stay in the county and can be used as revolving loans for other projects. “You are getting $1 million you never had,” said Tate, who noted the industry would also be a ratepayer with CCED.
McKenzie Industrial Board has administered similar programs for Bethel University, said Simmons.
Younger and Associates of Jackson estimated the new industry would have an $8.8 million impact on the local economy. Tate said, without the support of the Carroll County Electric and RedLG, the project will go elsewhere.
Brawner said the board’s position has always been not to be in the business of loaning money. He said he works at the will of the board.
Brawner had a brochure on the program and had photocopies distributed to the board during the meeting.
Chairman Mann said the Board needs more information and a full contingent of members before voting.
From the USDA.gov website, “The Rural Economic Development Loan (REDL) and Grant (REDG) programs provide funding to rural projects through local utility organizations. Under the REDLoan program, USDA provides zero-interest loans to local utilities which they, in turn, pass through to local businesses (ultimate recipients) for projects that will create and retain employment in rural areas. The ultimate recipients repay the lending utility directly. The utility is responsible for repayment to the Agency. Under the REDGrant program, USDA provides grant funds to local utility organizations which use the funding to establish revolving loan funds (RLF). Loans are made from the revolving loan funds to projects that will create or retain rural jobs. When the revolving loan fund is terminated, the grant is repaid to the Agency…”
(Editor’s Note: The writer of this news story is a member of the McKenzie Industrial Board).