Concerns about a potential industry moving into the Green River Commerce Park by the park's only occupant were put to rest Wednesday morning.
The Columbia-Adair County Economic Development Authority opened the floor for comments during its regular monthly meeting and heard concerns from Rob Wilkerson, president of Assisted Transportation Systems.
Wilkerson said he was concerned about possible issues of dust and noise and wanted to make sure any new occupant at the park would have to follow covenants and restrictions that were in place when he moved into the park.
He said he is only interested in protecting his investment and what is good for the park.
"I'm not saying I'm against it, I'm just saying I'd like more information about it," Wilkerson said.
Board member Tony Corbin said the company in question has asked for negotiations to be kept confidential and the board must honor that. Even so, board members were able to assure Wilkerson that any industry recruited for the commerce park would have to follow all covenants and federal and state environmental regulations.
Board chairman Jim Hadley said the potential recruit wants to be able to announce any expansions itself. Two other communities are currently recruiting the business as well, he added.
Hadley said the board would never do something that would devalue the park or not be a good fit for the community.
"It's not a chicken plant. There are no chicken plants coming to Adair County," Hadley said.
Hadley said the company is highly reputable and more companies will follow should this one choose Adair County. The company committed to invest $17 million in the community it chooses, he added.
Board member Kaye Bowman said the board would work as hard to protect its current tenant as it would to recruit new tenants.
Following the discussion Wilkerson said his concerns had been addressed.
"I think we can move on," he said.
County Judge Executive Ann Melton attended the meeting and commended the authority board for its efforts to recruit jobs to the community. Magistrate Billy Rowe said he talked with other magistrates and they all said they have only heard positive comments about the project. Farmer Greg Corbin complimented the authority on their work, saying they have had to "move mountains in a very short amount of time."
"We have been handed a gift to this county if we can get these guys," Corbin said. "If we lose them it would be terrible."
A LEARNING EXPERIENCE
Later during the meeting Hadley told board members he wanted to discuss the process they had gone through and wanted to discuss how they could streamline the process so they could respond to inquiries more quickly.
"We can go get them. I think we had them, I just hope we haven't lost them," Hadley said.
Improvements to the park that were supposed to be done years ago–utilities and roads¬– were never done and the board had to get those issues addressed before they could make a solid offer to the potential recruit.
"That infrastructure that was originally proposed for the park, whatever happened to it, it didn't get put in when the park was built, and that's what we are having to deal with. It should have already been there," said board member Tony Corbin.
"The preparation we've done on this makes everything from this point forward easier," said board member Anthony Janes.
Authority director Sue Stivers said they have not heard back from the potential recruit since an offer was made and she believes they are now waiting for proposals from two other communities.
"We've done everything in our power to bring them here," Hadley said. "I don’t think there is anything else we could have done other than streamline the process. If we could had gotten it to them two weeks earlier they wouldn't have had these other people (recruiting them)."
By Sharon Burton