County to ante up for TK?

Published 6:13 pm Wednesday, May 16, 2007

By By Lisa Tindell – news reporter
The Escambia County Commission was the first government to make official its show of support for a regional incentive package for steelmaker ThyssenKrupp.
Commissioners signed a letter of intent to help provide funding for an incentive package for the German steelmaker at their regular meeting Monday.
A group of Escambia County commissioners said they attended a special called meeting of the Mobile County Commission last week to discuss the forming of a consortium to help share the cost of incentives that lured ThyssenKrupp, a steel manufacturing company, to settle in north Mobile County. Also attending the meeting were leaders from county and city government offices across a four-county region.
Steve Nodine, Mobile County commissioner and commission president, said he was excited that Escambia County is showing its support for the project.
Nodine said the results of an Auburn University study on the economic impact to the region are expected to be released this week.
Escambia County is working with Mobile, Baldwin and Washington counties toward a regional economic development authority, Escambia County administrator Tony Sanks said.
During a meeting of the Mobile Commission last week, a statement of intent to form the authority was passed out among those dignitaries present at the meeting.
The statement of intent signed by Stokes on Monday indicates the county's commitment to consider providing a portion of the financial incentives designated for the ThyssenKrupp project in North Mobile County.
Officials in Mobile County have taken the majority of the cost of incentives to ThyssenKrupp upon themselves, leaving approximately $20 million of the incentives costs to be divided among other municipalities and county governments who choose to participate in the effort to attract business to the region.
Nodine said the amounts could be relatively small, depending on the number of towns and counties that choose to participate in the consortium.
Based on a list provided by the Mobile County Commission, the annual amount would be approximately $50,000 per participant if each entity represented last week chose to be a part of the consortium.
The new authority, or consortium, will most likely be called the Lower Alabama Economic Authority, Stokes said.
Escambia County Commissioner Todd Williamson said the agency would be a good thing for the area.
Escambia County Commissioner Larry White was the only commissioner to vote against the signing of the letter of intent. White said he believed the move to sign the statement of intent was a hasty, and potentially costly, move for the county.
Stokes said he believed the commission was not making a hasty decision, but one that would stand to benefit the county in the future.
The statement signed Monday by Stokes states the county &#8220wishes to participate in the proposed regional economic development cooperative to assist with a proportional share of the financial incentives package” of the ThyssenKrupp's steel production plant in Mobile County.
The City of Atmore has also been invited to join the regional consortium.

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