Corman optimistic regarding Rivercane

Published 2:51 am Wednesday, May 24, 2006

By By Adam Prestridge
Once officials dug deep and began planning the Rivercane development, it was quickly realized that it was going to be a very complex project.
The Atmore Industrial Development Board needed someone who woke up every morning and Rivercane was his or her primary function in life. That someone would not only wake up thinking of development ideas, but dream about them as well, going to bed thinking of the project.
It was then when Atmore native Jim Corman knew he wanted the opportunity to lift the project off the ground.
"When you started looking at all aspects of this, you knew it was going to be complex," Corman said.
Corman said officials with the city and the Industrial Development Board understood the complexity of the project and that one day it could exceed 1,000 acres, could be a premium industrial site, be a catalyst to attract traditional shopping center type retail and the potential for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians to construct a $100-million destination resort.
"I went to the mayor and I basically said 'Howard, I have never done any real estate development in my life, but I managed complex tasks and there's probably not anybody that knows more about this development and there's probably not anybody who loves this more than me. I'm not your guy long term, but if you want me, I'm willing to serve as project manager to get this thing off the ground,'" Project Manager Jim Corman said. "I went to Richard (Maxwell) and Howard and proposed a contract and they approved it."
That was during a meeting in November 2005.
"What came out of that meeting was that they said we need to have somebody managing this day-in and day-out," Corman said. "We do not need to try to manage this with a group of volunteers that meet once a month. We just can't move quickly enough. We needed someone to hold accountable, so that if something goes wrong or something's not on time or if there's an issue, we know who to go to. There's not any question about that."
Now, that the Rivercane project has officially kicked off and brokers are searching high and low for prospective buyers to locate on Phase 1 of the 643-acre development.
"We had been to several different cities to look at similar developments; Auburn and particularly Opelika because they are mixed uses and we also went to Alex City," Corman said. "We came back from those trips and had this group meeting and what came out of that meeting was a vision and a dream."
That dream has come true, as three businesses have already signed on the dotted line to purchase property and begin construction at Rivercane.
Corman received his bachelor's degree in finance from Auburn University. He joined his father, who owned and operated Southland Telephone Company in Atmore in 1974 before leaving for the University of Texas where he received his MBA and met his wife, Jane. The couple moved back to Atmore in 1977 where Corman rejoined his father.
Southland Telephone Company expanded into the unregulated arena of the telephone business with long distance and cellular in 1980, but later sold and became a part of Telecom USA in 1987. Corman stayed with the company for a couple of years before forming his own company, Touch One, in 1989. Corman sold out to Z-Tel, now Trinsic, in 2000, where he continued to work until he retired in 2003.
Corman also serves as the president of the Corman Foundation, an organization he and his wife formed, which provides grants to Christian ministries. On occasions, he teaches economics at Jefferson Davis Community College and has served as a consultant for several ministries and businesses.

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