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JDA votes to pay up to $250,000 on debt

With over $460,000 sitting idle in its operating account, the Grady County Joint Development Authority decided this week to use some of that money to reduce its interest expense and pay down its debt.
“We’re pushing $500,000 in the checking account, which is a good place to be, but wouldn’t it be good to pay down debt?” JDA member Charles Davis asked Tuesday.
JDA Chairman Charles M. Stafford concurred and suggested the authority pay down on its existing line of credit, which would save 3.5 percent interest.
“We have the line of credit that we could pay down on and draw against it if we ever need the funds,” Stafford said.
After a brief discussion, the authority determined it could use $250,000 to pay down on the line of credit.
JDA Executive Director Chadd Mathis noted that the balance owed is just below $250,000 so Davis amended his motion to pay up to $250,000 on the line of credit and Vice Chairman Robbie Burns seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.
Chairman Stafford instructed Mathis to pay off all but $100 to keep the line of credit open.
Also Tuesday, JDA members discussed the need for a speculative building to be used in attracting new industry to locate here.
Currently, the only space available for the JDA to market to potential new employers is the vacant space at the Heritage Industrial Complex, the former W.B. Roddenbery Co. pickle plant. However, much of the vacant space needs considerable investment and repair before it could be leased.
Authority member Dr. Eugene Maddox asked if there were any more OneGeorgia grants that the authority could apply for in order to build a new spec building.
According to Mathis, that funding is typically tied to specific projects. The JDA executive director said he had recently been contacted by a state economic development official to find out if the authority had a vacant building to market.
Vice Chairman Burns said the authority continues to keep spending money on the former pickle plant and there is more that must be done.
“An old building is an old building and it requires a lot of maintenance,” Chairman Stafford noted.
Mathis said he would be satisfied either way the authority decided to proceed. He noted that if the authority decided to build a new spec building that would take money and if they chose just to fix up and maintain the Heritage Complex that would take substantial investment, as well.
The JDA executive director also suggested the authority could approach Grady EMC about applying for another Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG).
The REDLG program is offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide funding to rural projects through local utility organizations such as Grady EMC. The ultimate goal of the REDLG program is to create and retain employment in rural areas.
“This time maybe it could be set up as a revolving loan fund so that the money would remain here to finance other economic development projects,” Mathis said.
Chairman Stafford said he was not aware of the possibility of revolving loan fund only a zero interest loan that was payable to the EMC.
Mathis said that some are set up as revolving loan funds and he could share information on it with the authority members.
Vice Chairman Burns asked if Mathis would contact EMC officials about the possibility and the executive director indicated he would.
Chairman Stafford also said he would contact grant writer Bob Roberson to inquire about grant opportunities.

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