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West Franklin Industrial Park receives Advantage Site distinction

RED BAY – Economic development is an important part of what city officials in Red Bay see as a plan for growth and improvement in the city’s future.

Because of this, city officials said they were pleased to announce the recent designation of the West Franklin Regional Industrial Park as an Alabama AdvantageSite, which means the park is “shovel ready,” or ready for prospective industry to come in and begin to build.

“This is a big step in showing that the city of Red Bay is committed to working with our current industry, and it gives us an advantage as we recruit new industry,” Red Bay Mayor Bobby Forsythe said.

“We live in a competitive world today, so any leverage in marketing our site is very beneficial.”

The West Franklin Regional Industrial Park is a 55-acre site located within the city limits of Red Bay. The site is 18 miles from Interstate 22, with Alabama 24 running through the property. The largest contiguous tract of the site is 35 acres with all utilities at the site.

The AdvantageSite program requires that community economic development organizations provide documentation specific to a proposed industrial site, including a set of standard data related to ownership/control, environmental and geotechnical conditions, and infrastructure status.

Sites must also meet size, zoning and accessibility requirements.

The application process for the site was managed locally by the Franklin County Development Authority with a team of local entities supporting and/or participating in the process.

Franklin County Development Authority Executive Director Mitch Mays said this designation for the West Franklin Regional Industrial Park would be a great tool when trying to market the park to prospective industry.

“With Red Bay’s close proximity to Toyota in Tupelo, Miss., and their current strong industrial base, this is a great way to show they are ready for industry,” Mays said.

“Red Bay has worked hard to gain this AdvantageSite designation, and it speaks well to their commitment of preparing for the future economy of their city.”

AdvantageSite is a voluntary industrial site preparedness program created in order to make the state more competitive for companies considering a location in Alabama.

Thirteen projects have located on sites with AdvantageSite designations since the program’s inception in 2008, which represents the creation of more than 2,900 jobs and $597 million in capital investments.

The program is a teamwork approach between the private sector and state and local governments. It is geared toward having prepared product and materials ready for industrial prospects.

The program is jointly sponsored by the Alabama Department of Commerce, Alabama Gas Corp., Alabama Power Co., the North Alabama Industrial Development Association, PowerSouth Energy Cooperative, and coordinated by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA). Representatives from each of the entities actively participate in application reviews and on-site visits to prospective AdvantageSite designees.

Once a site has received AdvantageSite designation, the site will keep the designation for four years, provided that the site continues to meet the criteria and the applicant complies with the reporting requirements.

West Franklin Regional Industrial Park is only the second park in Franklin County to receive this designation. The Mike Green Industrial Park received its initial designation in 2008 and was re-designated in October of 2012.

Mays said the FCDA would be actively pursuing AdvantageSite designations for other parks in the county this year.