New commission forms to bring businesses to Lowndes County

Published 11:26 am Friday, May 31, 2013

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

Heralded by Lowndes County Commission Chairman Robert Harris as a “milestone in the history of the county,” the Lowndes County Economic Development Commission (LCEDC) filed incorporation papers Wednesday with Lowndes County Judge of Probate.

According to Cleveland Poole, vice president of economic development and legal affairs for Pioneer Electric Cooperative Inc., the LCEDC will work inside and outside of Lowndes County to attract new business and industry to the county, as well as to partner with existing industry to meet their needs.

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A group including LaRue Pringle, chairman of the Lowndes County Industrial Development Authority; Thomas Ellis, co-owner of Priester’s Pecans in Fort Deposit; Wiley Lott, director of economic and government affairs for the Southeast Alabama Gas District; Rod Cater, business office manager for Alabama Power in Greenville, Georgiana and Fort Deposit; and Poole appeared before the Lowndes County Commission Tuesday night to seek support for the creation of the LCEDC as a 5013c organization to move economic development in the county forward.

That support was given unanimous approval following a motion by County Commissioner W. Dixon Farrior and seconded by County Commissioner Carnell McAlpine.

Poole said the LCEDC will provide a group that can come together, answer questions and help identify what businesses and industries are looking for along with marketing Lowndes County.

“Everybody is excited and is working together. Every town, the county, the businesses, utilities are coming together for a common purpose to help move the county forward,” he said.

Poole said the group effort includes Pioneer Electric Cooperative Inc., Alabama Power Company, Southeast Alabama Gas District, Central Alabama Electric Cooperative, Dixie Electric Cooperative, Hayneville Telephone Company, banks in the county, cities in the county, industrial development boards in the county and the county itself.

“What’s happened is everybody in the county, the leadership, have come together, both business and political leaders, to form an organization that will work with local businesses and industry to make sure that they stay here,” Poole said.

He also if businesses need help or want to expand, the LCEDC will work to help them.

“Bring others in is the second part of a three-legged stool,” Poole said. He said the LCEDC will identify potential sites to be the contact point.

“And the third thing is workforce development… meeting the needs of industry or potential industry,” he said.

He explained that if welders are needed, “There are ways to get training so that we can provide them locally so they don’t have to import them in from other counties.”

“I think this is one of the brightest things for the future of Lowndes County that I’ve seen come along in a long time. It’s a thing that everybody can get behind and support and bring folks who are going to bring in jobs, helping people go get those jobs,” Ellis said.

Pringle called the LCEDC “a winning priority the county needs.”

“We’ve got a great location, just south of Hyundai, the Alabama River, the interstate, Highway 80, two railroads and a lot of folks who want and need to work,“ Pringle said.

Lowndes County also boasts Interstate 65.

Harris said the LCEDC had been in the works for more than six months. He said it would increase the economic development prospects for Lowndes County. “And we’re trying to change the atmosphere from Lowndes County for economic development and to have a more positive effect so that people will want to come to Lowndes County and to bring their businesses here.”

Mosses Mayor Walter Hill called the LCEDC a step in the right direction for the county.