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C/AC Economic Development Authority - Report, 18 Jul 2017

Action/discussion at the Tuesday, July 18, 2017 Regular Session the EDA:
  • City, County, EDA may look to retail development as alternative to manufacturing jobs; possibility of retail survey being considered
  • Chairman Dykes says he's highly impressed with growth at TJ Health/Columbia
  • Financial condition of EDA steady for June. Financial report will be on website this year
  • Green River Commerce Park sewer project is complete. ATS plants hooked on. CEO is happy
  • CACEDA will consider offer of trade of land in old industrial park for acreage in GRCP
  • Machinery distributor still considering Columbia; will make another visit

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By Ed Waggener

The Columbia/Adair County Economic Development Authority had a meeting packed with news of progress, new plans, and projects complete at its July 18, 2017 meeting.

Authority enthusiastic about survey of retail possibility

Mayor Curtis D. Hardwick and Adair County CJE Mike Stephens gave a joint report on having a survey conducted by the Retail Strategies, Birmingham, Al. The firm is proposing to study the possibility of additional retail outlets in Adair County. The cost for the initial study would be $15,000, Mayor Hardwick said. The firm told Hardwick, that among other things, there is an imbalance in the grocery business, with $12,000,000 annually being spent outside Adair County by local residents. Knowing that, the EDA might be able to recruit a major Kroger-type market for the community.

Sporting goods stores and major restaurants, truck stops were among the retail possibilities which might be available here.

The initial report, for $15,000, would be available for use by the local community to recruit retailers to the community.

The cost of the survey would be equally split by the City of Columbia, Adair Fiscal Court, and the Columbia/Adair County Economic Development Authority, as presently viewed, Mayor Hardwick said, but added that other interested parties might join in the effort, as Industrialist Robin Wilkerson had done to make the Green River Commerce Park sewer project a reality.

After that survey is conducted, Mayor Hardwick said, Retail Strategies could be engaged to do a much broader survey of the region, at a cost of $50,000, and with this survey, the Retail Strategies group would "push" data to prospective retailers with a profile which fits Columbia and Adair County.

Chairman Dykes noted that recruitment of manufacturing jobs has seemed to stall out over the years, and retail development might be an alternative way to go.

"It's worth a try," he said.

Member Dean Adams, who said higher education is a data-driven area, said he favored the study. "We need the know," he said. "The information we get may not be the information we want to hear," but he said that the information will have value because the community would be able to be realistic, not romantic, about what is feasible and what is not.

Several noted that growth in retailing is not exclusive of growth in manufacturing. In fact, Mayor Hardwick and Judge Stephens noted, strong retailing might be big factors in whether or not a company would locate here - particularly in the most desirable cases with plant owners actually moving to Columbia, bring their families, and being a part of the community.

Dean Adams noted, too, that retail development would help make Columbia more attractive for students at Lindsey Wilson, and others noted that better, broader retail would be an asset in drawing more health professionals, more highly skilled educators to Adair County.

Mayor Hardwick said that he's experienced recruiting in the past with data-challenged information. "When investors take the time to come to Columbia, they want more than warm handshakes and friendly smiles - they want facts. I'm hoping that if we should have this survey done, our community will be able to tell these busy executives what they need to know.

Finally, Chairman Dykes noted that Adair County has no shortage of entrepreneurs with management skills and financial resources to fill retailing needs, to seize opportunities. He said that reliable data about those needs and opportunities might be the impetus to get local business persons to take the plunge into new areas needed for added growth here.

Mayor Hardwick is setting up a conference call, shortly, in City Hall, with Retail Strategies to get a better handle on what the project would entail.

Mark Dykes: Highly impressed with TJ/Columbia

Chair Mark Dykes commented on the open house for its In-Patient Unit, on July 14, 2107, at TJ Health/Columbia. "I'm highly impressed with the management," he said, "and with the quality of the results they're getting with their investments here." He said that he learned at the open house that approximately $1,000,000 has gone into facilities improvements.

Employment, he said, is now grown to around 100 for the whole former Westlake Healthcare Team locations, and, he said, he expects to continue to grow.

"They're having a great economic impact," he said. "I just think we ought to all thank them for a job well done."

Financial report will be put on website

Chairman Dykes said that the organization's financial report will be available at the office, at the Chamber Building, 201 Burkesville Street, Columbia, KY, and will be published on the EDA's website. There will also be a small ad in the legal newspaper with directions to the website and noting the availability of the report at the Chamber Building.

Wayne Supply is coming back for another look

Mr. Dykes said that Wayne Supply will be visiting Columbia shortly to review available sites for a sales facility in Columbia - with possible service capability, with a store which might employ, at first, up to six people. It would be a sales/services facility only, at first. Rentals for Adair County would continue to be offered, for now, through the equipment giant's Somerset outlet.

The Green River Commerce Park sewer project is complete, online

Chairman Mark Dykes reported that the Green River Commerce Park sewer project is complete and online. He said that Robin Wilkerson, CEO of Assisted Transportation Systems, the park's anchor employer, has hooked onto the new system and has reported everything is working well. He said that the final payment owed by the EDA, for 25% of the final $2,751.17, was $687.79, reported paid in Treasurer Ann Martin's report for June 30, 2017. The balance of the money was to be paid by the City of Columbia, Adair County Fiscal Court, and Rob Wilkerson

Member Kenzie Rowe reported that Wilkerson is inquiring about the possibility of trading 21 acres in the "old" industrial park, off KY 55 South, for land in the Green River Commerce Park. Members of the board agreed that they are open to discussion on the trade, after consideration of appraisals or PVA listing on values can be obtained.

Treasurer's report shows reconciled balance of $158,076.32

Treasurer Ann Martin's report showed relatively little change in June, 2017, with only $12.90 in income from interest and only the final payment on the Green River Commerce Park sewer project, for $687.79, in expenses. Her report, on a motion by Member Dean Adams, with a second from Kenzie Rowe, was approved, unanimously by the members present.

Minutes for June meeting in handout

In the absence of Authority Secretary Randy Burns, the minutes of the June 20, 2017, were presented in writing, and unanimously approved by those present.
Present at the meeting were Mark Dykes, Chair; Members Dean Adams, Kenzie Rowe, and Ann Martin; County Judge Executive Mike Stephens and Deputy Andrea Waggener, and representatives of the media.

This story was posted on 2017-07-20 11:36:48
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