Build first class industrial park to attract the best
The day before Thanksgiving 1984, a DAILY editorial touted what developing the Mallard-Fox Creek Industrial Park and Port would mean to Morgan County.
The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway was months away from opening and Morgan County needed this new complex if it was to compete for jobs.
Now, nearly a quarter century later, the park is filling up and the county needs a new site to offer industrial prospects.
Like the Tennessee River draws certain industries, interstate highways appeal to others. The Interstate 65 corridor is one of the hottest targets in the state.
As in 1984, the county economic development association is taking the lead in spotting industrial sites somewhere between Falkville and Priceville. Hartselle officials are working specifically on developing property at the city's two interchanges.
Paying for the $15 million Mallard-Fox project was a major problem. Aside from possible state and federal grants, the Economic Development Association of Morgan County had to rely on a countywide effort to pay for the project.
Former County Commission Chairman Larry Bennich played a key role in getting municipalities to participate in what some viewed as "Decatur's park."
They ultimately routed Tennessee Valley Authority in-lieu-of-tax revenue to the project, which pays out next year.
Seeing an industrial park, regardless of its location, as a countywide benefit paid off for all of Morgan County. The success of Mallard-Fox should make it easier this time to get municipalities to pay their fair share.
Mallard-Fox Creek is first class. Hopefully, any park or parks located along I-65 will be also. Anything less than the best will draw less than first class jobs.