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The Grady County Joint Development Authority is pushing forward with plans to construct a new speculative building in Milestone Industrial Park, but on Tuesday the authority decided to scale back the size of the structure.
Originally, the authority was contemplating a 40,000 square foot spec building, but after a recent meeting with representatives of the Electric Cities of Georgia, of which Cairo is a member, JDA Executive Director Julian Brown said that ECG officials are receiving more contacts from potential employers looking at buildings 10,000 to 20,000 square feet.
“I have also been told that there have been some 40,000 square foot buildings in Cordele that have sat vacant for 12 years, which also concerns me,” Brown said.
Authority member Charles Davis said it is bothersome that Cordele, being right on Interstate 75, was unable to attract a tenant for a 40,000 square foot building.
“I just don’t want to see us in the hole for $1.3 million for 10 years and still not have a tenant,” Brown said.
The JDA director said that none of the investment the authority has already made in surveying and pre-engineering would be wasted.
Cairo City Manager Chris Addleton asked if the building could be configured in such a way that it could easily be expanded should a tenant need a larger space.
According to Brown, that could be done and there is plenty of land at the park to accommodate the larger facility.
Authority member Drew Pyrz suggested the authority consider the possibility of constructing two, 20,000 square foot buildings that could share a common parking lot. However, Brown said he was not certain if the authority could qualify for funding for more than one building.
JDA Chairman Charles M. Stafford said that the authority likely will qualify for a $500,000 loan that would be interest only for five years unless it was leased sooner and then principal payments would kick in.
JDA attorney Thomas L. Lehman said that the authority had the most success with companies such as Woodhaven, Pioneer, and Seminole Marine, who the authority had worked with to facilitate their growth. He, too, recommended constructing a small facility that could be easily expanded.
After additional discussion, the authority voted unanimously to proceed with the project and to construct a spec building of up to 20,000 square feet.
In related business Tuesday, Brown said that he had been working with Rep. Darlene Taylor on a Transportation Enhancement Grant. If awarded, Brown plans to extend Industrial Park Drive to wrap around and connect Hall Road and Joyner Road. “Hopefully, I will have an update at the July meeting,” Brown said.
Brown also updated the authority on his discussions with city officials about the possibility of annexing the phase two of Milestone Industrial Park into the city.
Lastly, Brown reported that Electric Cities of Georgia will be hosting the annual ECG bus tour on Aug. 13 and 14 with planned stops in Cairo and Whigham on Aug. 14. Included on the tour are state economic development recruiters and officials.