CGEDA opposes landfill

Published 9:55am Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dear Editor,

On Feb. 24, 2011, the Board of Directors of the Coastal Gateway Regional Economic Development Alliance (CGEDA) unanimously passed a resolution in opposition to the proposed Conecuh Woods Landfill. This action was not undertaken lightly and reflects the sentiments of this organization’s leadership.

The Board of CGEDA is composed of business, community, and political leaders from Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Escambia, and Monroe Counties. The residents and businesses within these counties and beyond will be impacted should the landfill project move forward.

The primary mission of CGEDA is to market and promote the assets of Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Monroe and Escambia Counties. This promotion is done with a singular objective: to create economic activities and increase prosperity throughout the region. I assumed the position of Executive Director of CGEDA in January of this year.

While having been in the area for only a few months, I have lived in Alabama my entire life and have been engaged in economic development for more than 20 years. While having been in the area for only a few months, I have seen several advertisements and heard numerous radio commercials describing the Conecuh Woods Landfill as an economic boon to Conecuh County and the region as a whole.

The assertion that is put forward, by the landfill developers, is that the landfill will ultimately be an asset that can be used to attract other companies by offering an opportunity to locate next to a source of methane gas which can be converted into an industrial electrical supply.

While it is true that a number of companies utilize landfill generated methane as an energy source; I’m not aware of any economic development organization implementing a strategy to recruit or develop a landfill as a means of recruiting other companies in the future. In those limited instances when companies have located in proximity to a landfill, the landfill had been in existence for years. Energy costs and reliability are always a consideration for companies seeking a location.

However, workforce availability, business cost, environmental safety and a host of other variables, including a community’s quality of life, usually have a greater impact on a company’s decision to locate a facility. To suggest that the Conecuh Woods Landfill should be supported because it will enhance future economic development efforts is either naïve at best or a direct effort to mislead at worst.

There are a number of challenges that confront the citizens of south Alabama as we engage in efforts to create sustainable economic opportunities. The Conecuh Woods Landfill would not enhance those efforts and could prove to be an insurmountable obstacle going forward.

Sincerely,

Jim Searcy

CGEDA

Executive Director

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