Officials urge attendance at Thursday bamboo meeting

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Linden Industrial Board and Marengo County Commission are asking local landowners to again mark their calendars for Thursday at 2 p.m. On that day a special meeting will be held at Linden Baptist Church about the possibilities of West Wind Technologies and local farmers.

The company has been looking very favorably at Linden as a location for an American plant, but they need acreage.

Linden Industrial Board Chairman Kevin Dixon said the company has planned for most phases. However, they would like to meet with landowners Thursday to give them a better idea of their intentions.

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“There are two phases one is a $180 million project and the other is $350 million,” Dixon said. “But there are three things they are going to need to make this happen and two of them are in the works. The other is acreage commitments and the board is really working hard on that.”

The Thursday meeting will be an informative gathering for landowners who may be willing to get into the business of bamboo farming. Dixon said they plan to go into many different details.

“They are going to give a presentation to landowners and anybody interested,” Dixon said. “They will be making a presentation of how their systems are going to work. They are going to be talking about contracts and real figures as for what kind of money is going to be available for the farmers and what kind of money it is going to take for the labor force at the plant.”

The meeting is for landowners who are within a 30-mile radius of Linden, but many believe interested parties in Eutaw and other surrounding areas will not be shut out of this opportunity. As for acreage, it is likely the company will try to stick to larger plots. Dixon said this would help them cut the cost of moving their equipment over and over.

“They have said they want to get it in groups of 500 acres,” Dixon said. “I think that is to keep them from having to harvest it in 40 acre crops and having to load up all the machinery and haul it around. That is something they are going to clear up Thursday.”

The possibilities have several local leaders excited. Commissioner Ken Tucker said he was pleased to see the potential of a large employer on the table and was grateful for the hard work that made the initial meetings possible.

“We are extremely pleased with all the efforts and the potential opportunity that exists in Linden, Marengo County and West Alabama,” Tucker said. “We realize that didn’t happen on its own. It was the work and diligence of the board and others who helped.”

Commissioner Max Joiner also offered his gratitude and excitement over this potential large-scale employer.

“I want to commend you for this,” Joiner said. “This has been a conversation piece for me with a lot of people. The good thing about something like this is that one attracts another. If this becomes a reality we will have a great opportunity for the people of Marengo County.”

A May 19 meeting will follow Thursday’s meeting where approximately 300 business and political leaders in the area have been invited.