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Momentum builds for park

By By JOHN DILMORE JR. Publisher
Momentum is continuing to build for development of a regional industrial park that would see Brewton, Escambia County and a growing list of local entities work with their neighbors in nearby counties in drawing a large employer to the area.
Among the entities which have already lent support to the project, in addition to Brewton and Escambia County, are Evergreen, Monroeville, Conecuh County and the Conecuh County Development Authority.
Many others have expressed interest, and the list of those who've made that interest official is expected to grow in the coming weeks.
The idea is for the entities involved to pool their resources in accomplishing a goal that would be beneficial to all of them, said Brewton's Yank Lovelace, who is spearheading the effort.
The "something" Lovelace and other backers of the plan have in mind is the Shotgun Hill Industrial Park, to be located on Hwy. 41, just on the Conecuh County side of the I-65 interchange.
The proposed 570-acre site is strategically located within easy driving distance of numerous cities and towns in the area. The idea is that a major employer making its home in the proposed park would be of significant benefit to all parties involved.
So far, Lovelace said, the spirit of those moving the project forward is a unified one.
The idea of taking a regional approach to industrial development began last year, during a Brewton Area Chamber of Commerce meeting at which several invited speakers voiced their ideas on spurring growth here.
Lovelace took to the regional concept and has spread the word of its potential benefits to representatives of cities and counties throughout the area. And in most cases, he found an enthusiastic audience.
So far, the entities who've gotten involved have completed a phase one study of the proposed site, and are planning to embark on a second study.
For the second study, entities taking part in the project are being asked to contribute $4,000 each.
The Escambia County Commission okayed its contribution at its last meeting, and the Brewton Development Authority followed suit this past Friday.
The $4,000 contribution is only for the phase two study, Lovelace said, and doesn't obligate the contributors to participate any further if they choose not to.
A committee made up of representatives from the areas involved has also secured an option to purchase the 507-acre site, which is currenbtly privately owned.
If the project continues to move forward, the entities involved will eventually decide on how to divide future costs, then purchase the property and develop and market it. There are even plans to put together a team that would travel the country touting the park to businesses that might have an interest in locating there, Lovelace said.