Webb hired as project manger

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, February 28, 2007

By By Adam Prestridge
As work continues on infrastructure at the Rivercane development adjacent to Interstate 65, the Atmore Industrial Development Board is prepping for another huge step in the project.
Monday afternoon, the Atmore City Council approved the board's recommendation to hire Joe Webb as the new project manager to oversee the 643-acre industrial venture. Current project manager Jim Corman announced last month that he would be accepting a job as an adjunct professor at Auburn University in the fall.
"I'll be teaching some entrepreneurship and small business finance courses," Corman said during the IDB meeting.
Corman has also been offered the position to head up a venture capital fund that would be headquartered in Auburn. He has also been appointed to an advisory board at Auburn.
"With all of those things that we have been looking at, praying for and dreaming about for a long, long time – I can't wait to get into a classroom with some juniors and seniors that are in their major and see what we can do," Corman said. "I've always dreamed about being able to try to impact students like I was impacted by several precious teachers and professors."
Corman has agreed to an extension of his contract with the city through the end of May, which is the third extension to the original contract. At that time, Webb will take over as manager.
"I was impressed with what the mayor, council, Utilities Board and the Industrial Development Board had done to position the city to grow," Webb said. "I'm delighted to be able to participate in this exciting development."
Webb, a native of Atmore, graduated from Escambia County High School and received his bachelor's degree in industrial management from the University of Alabama. He worked for 36 years with Alabama Power Company with experience in marketing, industrial sales, district management in Atmore and Mobile and economic development and government relations. Webb is currently a realtor with ERA out of Gulf Shores.
"My goal is to simply take what they have accomplished and try to move forward with it," Webb said. "They've done a marvelous job with getting the project to where it is."
Corman met with Webb last week and they put together a transition plan to implement prior to his start. As part of the plan, Corman and Webb will meet on a weekly basis and Corman will supply him with all the pertinent information about the project he needs.
"I'll be giving him a data dump from the very beginning to the end, going over every detail," Corman said. "We expect that within four or five sessions, we can at least get him to the point to where he's got all the factual information. That will take us to through the end of March."
In April, Corman said he would include Webb in all conference calls and face-to-face meetings he has with people involved in the project. Corman added that the board is targeting a formal transition of project manager responsibilities to Webb the first week of May.
Being offered the opportunity to be a part of such a wide-scale project is exciting to Webb.
"I've been in economic development and the government relations business for a number of years and it just makes me delighted that they had the vision to see this opportunity and to do all the heavy work that it took," Webb said. "The Creek Indian Nation has done a marvelous job and I'm looking forward to working with them to help maximize the opportunity for the citizens of the area."
Industrial Development Board member Tommy Moore believes Webb is the right man for the job.
"Joe is a great guy for the job," Moore said. "I think it's a great next step because he does have a lot of outside contacts and he's a hometown boy."
Atmore mayor Howard Shell agrees.
"We couldn't have tailor-made it any better," he said.
Project Manager's Report
"We are probably five weeks behind schedule that we had anticipated back in November," Corman said.
"We're needing to do two things that are getting to be really tricky and we're going to need a schedule that is aggressive and timely kept," Corman said.
Corman said installation of non-city utilities such as telephone and power will soon begin. He also stated that the utility work needs to be completed in a timely fashion because landscaping work will not be able to begin until after crews cease digging holes and tearing up land to install utilities.
"We don't want to push the landscaping back to where we're putting all these plants in the ground during the hot part of the year," Corman said. "Ideally, we would like to be planting right now. So every week is precious."
Although the landscaping plan has not been finalized, Corman said that when the plan is revisited it is planned to add more irrigation in areas. Bid packages for potential landscaping contractors will go out in March based on a contractor's list being compiled by the board.
"We've had a pretty good bit of activity in January and February," Corman said. "Activity meaning pretty serious activity. We have received offers on six lots."
According to Corman, the offers total approximately $3.5 million.
"We have issued counters on all five," Corman said. "We're not that far away on prices, that's why I say they are very serious offers. Our counters were only at the $3.7 million range. There were other issues – some people were wanting restrictions on similar types of restaurants that would be put within a certain area, we've got two people that are wanting the same lot and some people that are wanting to move and get in the middle of a parcel. We're trying to fine-tune location and some of those non-price issues."
In addition, Corman said there are two other buyers interested in a total of three lots, but no offers have been made.
"It's nice to have nine additional lots in play – six of them in which we have already received serious offers on," Corman said. "It really does look like the level of interest and the amount of activity has increased."

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox