County unanimously approves industrial developments

Published 10:48 am Friday, May 31, 2013

The Decatur County Board of Commissioners have given their approval to two major industrial development projects that are currently underway.

Rick McCaskill, executive director of the Industrial Development Authority of Bainbridge and Decatur County (IDA), updated the commissioners about the two projects during Tuesday night’s regular board meeting. Although the county did not officially sign any agreements or contracts, the commissioners gave their unanimous approval for the IDA and McCaskill to continue pursuing the prospects.

The first project McCaskill discussed was the recent announcement that the IDA plans to purchase the Traco building and then lease it to a company that manufactures automotive air-conditioning components. Initially the company would employ 75 people, but that number could increase to 250 jobs after several years of planned expansions.

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McCaskill explained that one aspect of the proposal is for the county to offer a 10-year property tax abatement. Then in year 11, the company would pay 10 percent of its normal tax bill; in year 12, it would pay 20 percent of its tax bill; and so on, paying 100 percent in year 20 and every year thereafter. In addition, he asked the county to waive all business license fees and building permit fees.

“In this very competitive environment, we’ve got to offer this abatement,” McCaskill said.

McCaskill said that the proposal is a serious one and that the company would bring high-quality, high-paying jobs to Decatur County.

“If this wasn’t a real good company, I wouldn’t be here talking to you right now,” he said.

Commissioner Frank Loeffler made the first motion to allow the IDA to proceed with all aspects of the plan, including the abatement and fee waivers. Commissioner Dr. David C. “Butch” Mosely seconded the motion, and the board unanimously approved it.

McCaskill also talked to the board about an already-approved proposal from an energy company to construct a solar power farm on land near the county’s airport. The commissioners originally approved the proposal at their Nov. 27, 2012, meeting.

He said the company had originally planned to build the solar-collecting arrays on 200 acres of land, but then discovered that about 40 acres of that land was unusable due to draining issues. McCaskill then offered a different 40-acre plot, to allow the company to construct a full-capacity 20 megawatt solar farm.

McCaskill said that this new 40 acres is land that could have been developed by the IDA for a future building or building expansion. As a result, he recommended for the energy company to pay $200,000 up front, to secure the land for 20 years. McCaskill explained that the upfront payment would be equivalent to a lease of $250-per-acre for 40 acres, for 20 years.

“Considering the condition that we are in, I thought that [the commissioners] would be more in favor of this agreement if they paid us that all up front,” he said.

McCaskill explained that the company could have built a 12.5-megawatt facility on the original 160 acres, but expanding to a full 20-megawatt facility strengthens their bid proposal to Georgia Power. Georgia Power is in the process of awarding bids to various companies to operate solar-power arrays, and McCaskill’s prospect is one of the companies that is bidding.

Mosely made the first motion to allow the IDA to move forward with adding the new 40 acres to the proposal. Loeffler seconded the motion and it was unanimously approved.