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Efforts move forward on industrial land purchases
By Jennifer Edwards -
Jim Hannon/TimesDaily
The Muscle Shoals City Council approved an agreement to sell its property in the Muscle Shoals Research Airpark to Shoals Industrial Development Committee. The council is the third group to sign off on the proposal.

Efforts by the Shoals Industrial Development Committee to purchase unoccupied industrial sites in Colbert and Lauderdale counties have taken a couple of steps forward.

Muscle Shoals council members approved an agreement to sell city property in the Muscle Shoals Research Airpark. The council is the third group to sign off on the proposal.

The Rogersville City Council and Florence Industrial Development Board also have approved the proposal.

Agreements still must be approved by the North Alabama Gas District, Florence/Lauderdale Industrial Expansion Committee and the Colbert County Commission.

Plans for the purchase were initiated in August when Shoals Economic Development Authority officials asked their board members to set aside about $7 million to buy the property.

Susie Heird, vice president of Shoals Economic Development Authority, said identical agreements have been delivered to all groups involved.

“The agreements have a deadline for the end of November, but some may not be able to meet that deadline because of the way meetings fall,” Heird said. “We are open to extending the deadline, if needed.”

She said the Colbert County Commission already has asked for an extension.

Colbert commissioners are discussing retaining a portion of their industrial site property for future county use. The possibility of building a water treatment facility there has been mentioned.

Muscle Shoals Mayor David Bradford said the agreement passed in Muscle Shoals does not include a purchase price for the acreage, but it allows the purchase to move forward.

“The city will keep some drainage areas and right of ways,” Bradford said.

He said the city purchased tracts of land at the industrial park in segments beginning in 2002.

“We will have to look at those purchases and do surveys, but basically they will pay exactly what we paid for it,” Bradford said.

If all of the purchases are approved, SIDC will own an additional 1,180 acres in Lauderdale and Colbert counties that can be used for industrial development.

Forest Wright, president of Shoals Economic Development Authority, said the move would streamline development efforts.

“It would remove one step in the process so, to a degree, it does make it easier,” Wright said. “Having all of the properties held by one entity helps to consolidate those efforts.”

The property will be owned by SIDC, the board in charge of distributing money from the half-cent sales tax increase that took effect Aug. 1, 2007, and is used to find economic development projects. The land will be managed and marketed by SEDA.

“As this land is sold, the income from the sale of the property will go back into funds to purchase more property,” Wright said.

Jennifer Edwards can be reached at 256-740-5754 or

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