ACCESS to invest $600,000 expansion

Published 8:21 pm Wednesday, January 11, 2006

By By Adam Prestridge
As soon as the word "approved" was announced at the Atmore City Council meeting Monday afternoon, it was official.
The Access Group, LLC, a computer software development company located in Atmore near Interstate 65, will invest more than $600,000 in a new 12,000 square foot office building on Hwy. 21 north in Atmore. With the council's approval and the assistance of the Coastal Gateway Economic Development Authority, Escambia County Industrial Development Authority and state officials, the company received a tax abatement, which exempts it from all ad valorem taxes except those earmarked for education.
"We are very pleased The Access Group chose Atmore as their permanent location and we are glad to have this type of business in our city," Atmore Mayor Howard Shell said. "We look forward to working with them and their continued expansion."
According to project manager Rick Warren with Conecuh Services Unlimited, the new facility will be constructed of a metal-framed building with a bricked front and portions of the side will be bricked. He said a parking lot would also be constructed as well as a small building for standby power and generators.
"What you see from the highway will be brick," Warren said. "It's going to be a pretty building."
The new building will be located on 6.55 acres of recently purchased land located on Hwy. 21 north across from GCR Tire Center.
Warren also said that an official ground breaking ceremony would be held by the first of next week. After that, work will begin.
"We're waiting on the final architectural drawing," he said. "As soon as we get those in hand, we're going to work."
Conecuh Services Unlimited is supposed to have the final architectural drawing on Thursday. Warren said once work begins it should be completed by May.
"We're shooting for four months to be complete," "The sooner the better. We actually need to be done in three months, but we're leaving ourselves a little cushion. Winter weather is always bad for weather. It tends to rain all the time in February, which could slow us down some."
Access currently employs 16 people in the Atmore office and plans to add 40 more jobs within the next three years. The types of positions The Access Group will be hiring for will include software project managers, systems analyst, web programmers, trainers and help desk support staff.
"Coastal Gateway EDA is excited about their expansion and re-investment into the community," CGEDA president Wiley Blankenship said in a prepared statement. "They will provide high quality jobs that will help improve the quality of life in our region."
The computer software development company with offices located in Jasper, AL and Atmore, AL. ACCESS' primary software product is its ACCESS College Administration Software, which is used by 21 Alabama two-year colleges. Other clients include four-year colleges within the southeast region. ACCESS' Adult Education Administrative Software package is installed for statewide usage in Alabama, Arkansas and Idaho, and ACCESS' GED Administrative Software is installed in Alabama.
"Escambia County Industrial Development Authority is always thrilled to announce an expansion of existing industry." ECIDA executive director Marshall Rogers said. "The Access Group has been an important part of the community economy for over 19 years and we are very fortunate they decided to expand their business in the Atmore area,"
Gov. Bob Riley sent his appreciation to ACCESS for the jobs and investment the company is making in Alabama.
"Economic growth and new jobs are being created throughout the state," Riley said. "Our economy is growing because more companies recognize we have the best workforce in America, and because leaders at all levels of government are working together to bring new jobs and new opportunities to our people. I want to thank local leaders in Atmore and Escambia County and your local economic development team for their outstanding efforts."

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