City owns port access

Published 8:20 am Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The idea once known as the Port of Demopolis has taken on new life with the purchase of a 76-acre plot of land to be used as the cornerstone of the complex. The deal, which was finalized Friday, saw the city put approximately $4 million down to procure the land it hopes will kick start the complex and job creation across the region.

“We now have 76 acres as the cornerstone piece of property for the Alabama-Mississippi Intermodal Complex,” Demopolis Mayor Mike Grayson said of the significance of the purchase.

The land came equipped with a number of permits from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, saving the city a considerable amount of cost in the acquisition. Those savings coupled with an assortment of grants have enabled the city to save tremendous financial resources in its quest to build and develop the complex.

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“We’ve gotten right at $2.6 million in grants from (Alabama Department of Transportation) to improve the road,” Grayson said. “We got about $369,000 from (Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs) to improve the railroad. We’ve been pretty fortunate with others around the state recognizing the importance of this project. There is only one other place in the state of Alabama that has all four modes of transportation.”

The 76 acres of land purchased Friday gives the projected complex more than 200 acres of land in addition to an already-constructed 100,000 square foot building with crane capability.

“We are actively engaged in trying to find a tenant for that property,” Grayson said of the next step in the development of the complex.

Grayson and other city officials learned Tuesday of Demopolis’ standing on a short list of potential target areas for a company in the heavy metal industry.

“We were on a conference call where we made the short list,” Grayson said. “This industry would bring approximately 80 to 100 production jobs and about 10 more in management.”

The city council is hopeful that the unidentified business will serve as its anchor tenant, drawing with it a number of other smaller companies.

“What we’re looking for is a company that is stable,” Grayson said.

“Typically they will have a couple of smaller suppliers that will want to follow them in. The beautiful thing is that (the company with which city officials had a conference call Tuesday) doesn’t compete with any of our other existing industries for resources.”

Grayson also indicated that the company considering Demopolis for its new location has no other Alabama cities on its list.

“We are the only site in Alabama they are considering, so we have the full attention of the state in landing this group,” Grayson said.

The arrival of such a company in Demopolis would provide the first bit of validation for the project, which took on a decidedly wider scope with its rebranding from the Port of Demopolis to the Alabama-Mississippi Intermodal Complex.

“Intermodal is just what that name would indicate in that there is more than one mode of transportation,” Grayson said, adding that the decision to account for both Alabama and Mississippi in the label both reflects the potential for the facility to serve both states while also opening the project up to Congressional support from the delegation of another state.