Water and sewer missing link in new industrial park
By By Buddy Bynum / editor
May 24, 2002
The absence of water and sewer service to a new industrial park is causing automotive manufacturing prospects to pursue other site locations, a local economic development official has told a federal agency.
In a letter encouraging the Economic Development Administration to approve a $1.6 million grant application by the city of Meridian, EMBDC president Wade Jones said the funds are critical in the I-20/59 Industrial Park's ability to attract new manufacturing jobs to Lauderdale County and East Mississippi.
Extending water and sewer service to the 650-acre industrial park, known locally as the Malone Ranch property, was reported to be the city of Meridian's responsibility under an agreement reached when the property was purchased for industrial development.
Asked on Thursday for a status report on the grant application, a city spokesman said it is being handled by the East Central Planning and Development District and referred the inquiry to that agency, where a representative was not immediately available for comment.
Jones said the April 2 announcement that South Korean automaker Hyundai would build a $1 billion plant near Montgomery, Ala., had prompted "a significant increase in industrial prospect activity.
Jones said Congress has authorized funds for the engineering design, environmental assessment and right-of-way acquisition for an exit off I-20/59 to serve the industrial park.
While various area companies and individuals have joined in two separate clean-ups at the site, and while Jones continues to show the property to industrial prospects, the water and sewer service remains a missing link.
The grant application gained new significance this week as local officials announced they have made contacts with South Korean companies that will help supply the billion-dollar Hyundai plant in Montgomery.
The five-day trade mission whose costs were mostly privately-funded helped raise Meridian's profile among companies that provide parts, accessories and services to auto manufacturing operations.