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City vying for ag facility

Atmore Mayor Jim Staff announced June 29 the city’s intention to offer incentives to locate an Alabama farmer-owned agricultural processing facility within the city’s industrial development complex.

According to a release, the facility will have a capital investment of over $82 million and will create at least 100 new fulltime jobs. The city, in partnership with the state of Alabama, is trying to land the industry in Atmore and is offering tax abatements and land for the construction of the facility and a railroad spur to service the plant.

Centerfire Economic CEO Jess Nicholas said work on the project has lasted for several months.

“This project involves a lot of local farmers, quite a few local farmers,” Nicholas said, adding that it impacts some 100 Alabama farmers. “The impact goes all the way to the Georgia state line and well into Mississippi.”

Nicholas said if the city is selected, the project itself would not only invest a significant capital figure, but would take up the largest portion the city has in the industrial park.

According to city officials, the state of Alabama is offering cash rebates for jobs credits and investment tax credits for the capital investment in the state. Additionally, the state is offering direct cash reimbursement for training costs and additional services by the Alabama Industrial Development Training office, according to a release.

Nicholas said there is a railroad construction component with this project as well.

“Phase 1 would be mostly (the construction of the facility) and Phase 2 (is the construction of the adjacent rail transfer yard) – they may come at the same time, dependent on grants,” Nicholas said. “The second phase is that the city would construct a transload facility, which would allow trucks and other transportation to put their goods on that rail to send to Mobile or Pensacola (Fla.).”

Nicholas said the transload facility would create a revenue stream for the city.

“That would be a win for Atmore, a win for economic developers and it’s something to recruit off of at a minumal cost to the city,” he said. “The cost to the city is the land at the industrial park.”

Nicholas said the revenue generated from the transload facility will come from the loads and parking fees for carts.

Additionally, the city intends to apply for grants, which if awarded, will allow the construction of the adjacent rail transfer yard, which will service industries in Atmore and in the surrounding region, according to a release.

According to a release, projections indicate a direct impact of retail spending from payroll over the first 20 years of more than $39 million, and an indirect impact of more than $28 million. The city is expected to receive a direct impact in retail spending from payroll in taxes of more than $1 million and an indirect impact of more than $700,000.

If selected, the facility will operate year round in Atmore.

“It does have a peak season,” Nicholas said.

Nicholas said the city will know pretty quickly if the facility is coming here.

A special public meeting will be held today, Wed., July 1, 2020, at 4 p.m. at city hall to discuss the project.