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Mathis says local economic activity is picking back up

The Cairo Messenger has reported previously that Grady County is the potential site for the expansion of an agricultural business, but as of this week, the company has yet to select a site.
Grady County Joint Development Authority Executive Director Chadd Mathis says that he continues to have contact with the employer, which he has code named “Project Grow.”
Originally, Mathis thought a decision would come quickly, but it has been approximately four weeks since his last communication with company officials.
According to Mathis, the expansion is temporarily on hold, and he says Grady County has not been eliminated from consideration.
Mathis met with officials from the Canadian-based firm twice in September.
The JDA director says the company would employ approximately 10 to begin with and could possibly grow to between 20 and 25 new jobs.
“At this time, there is really nothing new to report, but we are still in talks with them,” Mathis says.
This week, Mathis reported to members of the JDA during its December meeting that activity is picking up.
The JDA executive director reported that in the last several weeks he has met with three new prospects.
“It’s good to see more activity going on. This first year was all about stabilizing our finances and, in the new year, I plan to direct my efforts at recruitment,” Mathis says.
The JDA chief also reported that he has leased 40,000 square feet at Heritage Industrial Complex to SOWEGA Cotton Gin and Warehouse, LLC, for a four-month period. Mathis says the lease will generate $20,000 in rental income.
In other business Tuesday, the authority:
‰Heard an update on the Archway Partnership from Archway Professional Sharon Liggett.
‰Received a report on the ongoing work taking place at Heritage Industrial Complex to correct roof leaks and drainage issues. Mathis is now projecting the total cost of the project will be over $40,000, almost double the original estimates.
‰Learned that L&L has vacated its rented space at Heritage, but the authority successfully negotiated the purchase of a modular office building the company erected less the rent owed for September, October and November.
‰Authorized Mathis to contract with a broker to sell surplus equipment owned by the authority.
‰Discussed the need to strengthen protective covenants for Milestone Industrial Park with JDA attorney Thomas L. Lehman.
‰Heard a report from Mathis on his activities in assisting the city to categorize and inventory vacant property within the central business district. The JDA executive director says he plans to assist owners in marketing their vacant property for sale.
‰Discussed a plan to offer up to 20 permitted parking spots for semitrailer trucks at the Heritage Industrial Complex. The authority is looking to charge between $500 and $700 annually for each parking space. This would provide a secure, safe location for large trucks to be parked.
‰Discussed with Attorney Lehman the continuing negotiations and legal wrangling with Joseph Higdon regarding his personal guaranty of a lease for the manufacturing facility on Wight Road, which was custom built for use by Higdon Furniture Company.

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