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County and JDA finalize loan, check is cut

Local officials finalized a loan of approximately $588,000 from the Grady County Commission to the Joint Development Authority Tuesday and County Administrator Rusty Moye immediately produced a check for the loan proceeds.
The county is loaning the JDA the money at one percent interest for a period of 12 months so that the authority can make a large principal payment on the loan from the five local banks which financed the construction of the former Higdon Furniture Company facility on Wight Road.
After Higdon filed bankruptcy and a second tenant moved out, the building has been empty for nearly a year and the authority is having difficulty making the payments on the debt service.
“This is something that will really help the authority. I thank County Administrator Rusty Moye for spearheading this. I want to thank him , Chairman Al Ball and all of the commissioners for coming together to help us with the Higdon facility. It just shows that when times get bad our community comes together,” JDA Chairman Charles M. Stafford said Tuesday.
Chairman Ball said the county was glad to be able to give financial assistance to the authority and recognized the importance of maintaining the building as a community asset that could result in new investment and the creation of new jobs.
Last year the authority renegotiated its loan agreement with the local banks to allow for interest only payments on the Higdon facility note. The JDA also sought a $3,700 per month appropriation from both the county and the City of Cairo to make the debt service payments.
The money made available to the JDA from the county will allow the authority to pay down half of the debt on the Higdon facility, which would be the first principal payment in the last several months.
In other business Tuesday, the authority:
•Heard an update on a prospective new employer, code named Project Flake, which would create 15 new jobs and a $500,000 investment. According to JDA Executive Director Brian Marlowe the company would be operating a small distribution operation from Milestone Industrial Park. Marlowe will be meeting with corporate officials from Texas here on Thursday and told JDA members the project is “real promising.”
•Heard an update from Marlowe about continuing negotiations with Project Blue. This project would result in 48 new jobs in the first year and up to 65 in year two. Marlowe is hoping to be able to announce the details on this project in about two weeks.
•Learned that GFA Design Build, a local construction firm, has a contract to purchase the former Fastenal Building in Milestone Industrial Park. GFA had previously discussed with Marlowe the possibility of buying property in the industrial park to construct a building.
•Authorized Marlowe to contract with Tucker, Plymel & Davis PC of Moultrie to conduct the annual audit of the authority at a cost not to exceed $5,500 for FY08 and FY09. The Moultrie firm also audits the Moultrie-Colquitt County Development Authority as well as the Multi-County Development Authority, of which Grady County is a participant.
•Closed on the Recovery Bond Issue making available low interest and tax-exempt bond financing for the Turner Furniture Company project in Beachton. Chairman Stafford and Executive Director Marlowe appeared before the Grady County Commission Tuesday night and negotiated with commissioners to receive a payment in lieu of taxes from Turner for the life of the bonds, which is 15 years, that the furniture company will pay to the county. The amount of the payment will be equal to what the company would be taxed for its real property in south Grady County. Marlowe told commissioners the payment, which would be in the $18,000 range, would be used by the authority for industrial recruitment. He also said that based on conservative estimates the county would benefit from an excess of $100,000 in additional sales taxes generated by the Turner operation. The county commission agreed Tuesday night to allow the Turner’s payment in lieu of taxes to flow to the JDA as requested.

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