Despite economy, industry still eyeing Bainbridge

Published 7:56 pm Friday, March 20, 2009

Even though one manufacturer has shut down and another has suspended operations, Development Authority members heard reports Thursday that industry prospects have still been eyeing Bainbridge and Decatur County.

For example, the old American Fibers and Yarns building recently purchased by the Development Authority is being seriously looked at by another company.

“I have shown that building to a couple of other prospects that have come through, but I have kind of backed off from that because of the tenant that we have felt might go into it the whole time has really stepped up and is ready to sign the contract now,” said Rick McCaskill, Development Authority exeuctive director.

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McCaskill said most of the equipment has been auctioned off that’s inside the old American Fibers and Yarns buildings, and riggers and other heavy equipment have been inside removing the sold items.

He said 60 to 65 percent of the equipment has been removed, and the buildings’ sold equipment must be removed by June 15.

During that same auction, held a couple weeks ago, McCaskill said approximately 100,000 square feet of equipment within the Propex building was auctioned off as well.

“Propex is going to have 200,000 square feet of their building vacant that will be available for Propex expansion or whatever,” McCaskill said.

Propex is coming out of bankruptcy at the end of the month and is being sold to a holding company. Company officials are hopeful that if portions of the Propex operations throughout the country are consolidated, Bainbridge’s plant is standing on solid footing, McCaskill said.

“It is our hope that they (Propex’s holding company) will move something into the vacant space there and choice our site as a very important site for them,” McCaskill told authority members. He said company officials said the local plant is a profitable operation and, “a real lean operation.”

Another company has been looking at Bainbridge as well, McCaskill said.

In fact, a local engineering firm drew up plans for a 100,000-square-foot building proposed for Commadore Industrial Park.

“It’s not anything we’re close on, but we’re having real good discussions with them,” McCaskill said.

He also said that Agrium US Inc., located at 1301 Spring Creek Road, which is the largest warehouse in Decatur County, plans to expand and renovate that storage building this year. The company also may build another warehouse that is at least one-third the size of the existing one at a later date. This would necessitate more rail spur, McCaskill said.

It would be a huge investment, but not many new jobs; and it could lead to other things, he said.

Other items discussed

• Georgia Palm Beach is a local success story. “They can’t build all the orders they are getting in,” McCaskill said. The company is also considering building solar panels, which uses some of the same technologies it uses to build its insulated windows.

• Carolina Carport has shut down.

• Billy Howell at the Ag Flight Inc. is building three dormitories for its students, which come to Bainbridge from all over the world to learn how to fly crop dusters. The dorms are located at the airport.

• Zemex in Attapulgus is closing its operation in the southern portion of Decatur County and moving it to Quincy, Fla., McCaskill said.

• The authority members approved the financial statements and audit presented by Perry Henry, who said the authority is in good standing. The authority has $340,376 in it general revenue fund and total net assests of $844,958.