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Supervisor Meeting Report for June 15th

Link CEO Joe Higgins talks with Supes at Wednesday board meeting.

The Lowndes County Board of Supervisors met for their middle of the month meeting at the courthouse boardroom on 2nd Ave. North, on June 16. In addition to regular monthly business, Link CEO Joe Higgins came before the supervisors to submit a resolution and inform the supes of recent industrial growth at the Industrial Park, as well as the resolution for the Mississippi Steel Processing Rail Loan.

Higgins addressed the board, “Good morning. I think you’ve got me down for 2 items. If it’s ok with ya’ll, i’d like to go ahead and deal with the Mississippi Steel Processing first. I think George (Crawford, GTPDD) is gonna have some invoices later on in the project but if you’ll recall fom Mississippi Steel Processing and New Process Steel, we received CDB&G grants for roads, for water, for sewer and for the Mississippi Steel Processing project, so they can inbound and outbound ship rate, that rail project involves ARC and some CDB&G grants, and we were money short, so, we worked a deal with MDA so ya’ll could participate in the loan program. Amount of about $250,000. MSP has agreed to pay the county annually the amount of debt owed on that rail loan. it’s a 0% 10-year loan, and he’s agreed to pay that and what Will has passed out for you, you’ll see a document titled, ‘Rail Use & Maintenance Agreement’. I think you’ve already approved the paperwork needed to do the loan. And a lot of the verbage is in that document…we’re comfortable either way, either approving this today or if you will wish, Tim and I talked a little earlier, of asking Tim Hudson to give it a once-over and then let Mr. (Bob) Calvert look at it as well…and if its o.k. with those two gentleman, authorize Mr. Sanders to sign it. I think we need to probably get that done.”

Board attorney Tim Hudson said, “Yeah…I was just asking Mr. Calvert if he’s had a chance to look at it.”

“It looked like to me it covered the county,” said Calvert.

“It’s a $225,000, 15-year,” County Administrator Ralph Billingsley corrected.

Board President Harry Sanders said, “The original MOU we had said we’d pay MDA monthly and we have in here where they pay us annually and we have it so they pre-paid us, so we’ll have the money to pay MDA…so, it’s a wash.”

The board voted unanimously to approve the resolution.

“The second item I have is some documents for an industrial project,” continued Higgins. “You’ve got in front of you, a resolution, a bond resolution for Aurora Flight Sciences and you also have a copy of the minutes that have been prepared reflecting if you take action. And then you have a document in front of you entitled Exhibit A, County Government Resolution. Let me tell you a little bit about the project and then we’ll go through these three documents. We’ve been working for the last several months with Aurora on a proposed expansion of their existing facility here. Many of you know, a lot of you attended the event they had out there last Friday, where they received a United Technology Gold Award as a supplier. 100% on time and 100% no defects in their products. Well, it’s that kind of work that our citizens are doing out there that is responsible for Aurora getting the nod to get even more business from some of the aircraft manufacturers in the world. They’re working with the major aircraft manufacturer to secure contracts to make components. They have been awarded a contract and they estimate that they will, to deliver this contract, that they will need to employ as many as 250 new people that, once production starts, they would ramp up and hire those folks. I know you’re gonna ask over what period of time. Historically, the state’s given three years from the start of construction. With the down economy, they’ve changed that to five years to allow companies a little bit longer. I don’t know the exact time frame on that, that’ll be negotiated between MDA and Aurora.”

” But it’s the same bet…250 jobs over a specific period of time. Aurora jobs pay better than the county average, so, they’re viewed as good jobs, good working conditions and working for a good company. The project as we know it right now will probably consist of the addition of an additional building, don’t know the size quite yet. And the installation of some pretty high-tech equipment. paint booths, fiber lay-up machines that kind of, in a way, replace man with a machine so that the consistently of the project is done. Then a lot of testing equipment that will actually test the parts to make sure that there’s no voids, no cracks, no flaws in that part that could lend to failure.  ”

We think the projects total cost will come somewhere in the neighborhood of around $15 million. The state has agreed to provide a $3 million grant to make some of these improvements. They also offered up a program, and that’s what we’re here today to talk to you about. Whereas they make loans to the county on behalf of Aurora. And you (the county) are basically the conduit to supply the funds to Aurora for the purchase of about $9 million worth of equipment.  The balance of the project will be paid for with company funds…anything over, above and beyond that, with the exception of about $300,000 loan that GTRA would take out for an airport revitalization loan that would be used on some real property portion of the project. Whether it be a slab, part of the building cost…something real that would stay with the property once Aurora’s lease is over. GTRA owns the property, Aurora owns the buildings, that means at the end of 4- ten year terms of leases, those buildings will revert to GTRA. We thought it was safe and easy to put the airports money in a real property that eventually they will own.”

The supervisors passed the resolutions unanimously.

The county later also recognized Monday, July 4th as a holiday.

After more regular business, the board voted to recess untill their next scheduled board meeting on Tuesday, July 5th.

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2 comments

  1. Johnny Phillip Morris

    Any guarantees that the 250 employees would be hired from the local workforce?

    I seem to recall that when Nammo Talley moved into that 640 acre cottonfield in the south of the county–something like 12 years back– company executives warned locals that the manufacturing processes involved in production would require highly skilled technical workers, and that the local job force may not able to meet those requirements;i.e., they would go outside for skilled workers. They predicted hiring around 37–odd number, huh–workers. Talley is a Canadian–I think–Defense(sic) contractor, too.

    There appears to be little work activity down there. But there was some recent pipeline contractor activity down there running a six inch waterline alongside Highway 45. Couldn’t determine whether it was destined for Talley or the Prestage Pig Farm.

    Maybe Sarah could check it out? She could become the Amy McCullough of North Mississippi.

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