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Linden seeks access road for industrial park

Just a few weeks on the job as Marengo County Economic Development executive director, Debra Fox successfully led a combined effort in September to secure a $1.53-million grant for an access road for the Demopolis Airport Industrial Park. Now, she is gearing up to the same for Linden’s industrial park.

The money for Demopolis came from the Alabama Industrial Road and Bridge Corp. (AIRBC), which issues $11 million annually.

Before coming to Marengo County over the summer, Fox was successful in securing similar grants for Thomasville.

“We have, for a long time, been trying to get the industrial access road paved,” said Linden’s mayor Mitzi Gates. “Debra understands this process and knows it more fully. Having her on board gives us a much better chance of getting this.”

In a rundown of what it will initially take to apply for the grant, Fox told members of the Linden Industrial Development Board that the AIRBC consists of only three members: ALDOT director Joe McInnes, the president of the AIRBC; Kay Ivey, the state treasurer and vice president of AIRBC; and Jim Main, the state finance director and secretary of AIRBC.

Ivey will be in Linden Friday as the city’s parade grand marshal.

“The first thing she will ask is, ‘What have y’all done?’” said Fox. “Today, we (Fox, Gates and city administrator Cheryl Hall) met and brainstormed listing what everyone — the city and county — has contributed to the industrial park.”

Fox told the board that the AIRBC likes to see various government entities working together in partnerships. She also said that once the application has been made, it is important for the city and industrial board to become active in the process.

“You would be surprised by the number of applications who simply apply and never even show up for the hearing,” Fox said.

Fox added that she would be getting histories of the companies and letters of intent from business in and leading to the industrial park. She will also gather data such as the fiscal impact each company has on the city of Linden.

“We will be looking at a lot of dynamics and a lot of factors to make our case,” she said. “We are looking at it from every angle.”

After the AIRBC discussed the request Fox made for Demopolis, Ivey was the member who made the motion to approve the entire amount requested.

“For you other applicants, this is a classic example of how to get something done with city and county,” McInnes added. “These applicants have worked together and created a partnership with so many entities, and we appreciate that.”

The AIRBC awards grants during two cycles, one set in the spring and one in the fall.

Fox said the next funding hearing date is March 12.