CGREDA: Industrial interest growing in county

Published 11:19 am Saturday, April 30, 2011

Overviews of recent activity within the Coastal Gateway Regional Economic Development Alliance area indicate prospects are good in at least two counties served by the agency.

Jim Searcy, executive director of CGREDA, said interest in Clarke and Escambia counties has increased over recent months giving hope to development in the region.

“We have had good activity on our Web site with particular interest in Clarke County and down at Rivercane in Atmore,” Searcy told board members Thursday. “There has been a good amount of traffic on our Web site.”

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Searcy said the interest shown in one Atmore location is promising with a chance of the industry becoming a viable very high.

“The interest in Atmore is very aggressive,” Searcy said. “It’s a call center project and the developer was interested in a plug-and-play situation. They have that there and we’re hopeful.”

Searcy said a large manufacturing company is still showing interest in an area of North Clark County and Conecuh County.

High interest in the locations within the region has resulted in two industrial businesses during recent months.

Searcy said the second phase of development for Lakeside Steel is ongoing in Thomasville with a second industry taking root in the same area. Golden Dragon Precise Copper Tube Group announced their decision to settle in Thomasville last month creating as many ass 300 jobs for the area.

“While there will be in excess of 300 jobs created in association with this project, the true regional benefit will be the validation provided for all the communities in the Coastal Gateway Region,” Searcy said. “For Golden Dragon D Copper to select Thomasville, after such a rigorous selection process, is indicative of how effective and successful cooperation and regionalism can be.  Thomasville was selected from after 62 communities had been considered.  A rural community in southwest Alabama was selected because it had the necessary infrastructure but also the passion and commitment to compete.”

Searcy said decisions by Lakeside Steel and Golden Dragon might have been made because of other developments in the region.

“ThyssenKrupp legitimized the south as a metal manufacturing locality,” Searcy said. “With access to Hwy. 41 and I-65 and the improvements being done to Hwy. 84, the accessibility to the area is good. We also have good existing industry in this area and have good access to workforce. This gives us consistency in the region. It’s encouraging to see an increase in traffic showing interest in the region.”

Thursday’s meeting was attended by county economic development staff from the areas represented by the CGREDA.

“We are happy to work with all of the economic development allies in the region,” Searcy said. “Partnerships are important.”

Searcy said plans increase awareness of industrial/business opportunities in the region will include more input from each county’s economic development offices.

“We will work in partnership with each office to promote the region,” Searcy said. “We want to have at least two buildings in each county available for a virtual tour on our Website. That would give prospects 10 sites to tour on-line. That will be an added value for our region.”

Coastal Gateway Regional Economic Development Alliance’s primary mission is to market and promote the assets of Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Monroe and Escambia counties. The Web site can be seen at <>  with offices reached at 251-248-2413.