Industrial park a must to keep new jobs coming
A front-page headline July 6, 1979, in The Daily read, "Borg-Warner rules out Decatur."
Why would the industrial giant reject "the foremost industrial site on a waterfront," as the Daily article said of the property?
Borg-Warner Chemicals tired of waiting on the Tennessee Valley Authority to make a decision about the 250-acre site in the Mallard-Fox Creek wildlife management area. TVA seemed willing to give up some of the land for industrial sites but couldn't do so without engaging in lengthy studies and hearings.
The Daily article also said TVA was to decide within the next month if it would give up the land.
The $80 million plant would have employed about 1,000 workers. That loss was the catalyst for Mallard Fox Creek Industrial Park. Local industrial recruiters vowed to never again be caught short on available sites for companies wanting a place to build.
Construction on the park began in 1985 and today is nearing capacity. It's a huge success.
Imagine what the economy of Morgan County would be today if there were no Mallard Fox Creek Industrial Park. That's why the Morgan County Economic Development Association is pushing hard to develop a new park. This one, as EDA President Jeremy Nails said, is "going to be an entirely different concept." Instead of having a steel mill and a rocket assembly plant among its tenants, the new one would be primarily for light industry.
EDA proposes to build the park along the Interstate 65 corridor in the Hartselle-Falkville area. Mr. Nails wants all of the municipalities and county government to come together again as they did to finance Mallard Fox, to pay for the 1,800-acre park.
As a selling tool, EDA had The University of Alabama at Huntsville do an economic impact study of Mallard Fox's benefit to the county.
We'd be a much poorer place without Mallard Fox. As the end of 2006, the park generated 1,630 direct and 2,240 indirect jobs. Pay for the jobs in the direct category averages $68,256.
All of the statistics favor EDA's campaign for the new park. The annual return on investment is 67 percent.
The late Daily Publisher Barrett Shelton, who died in 1984, was one of the giants in industrial recruiting. His motto was that a man wasn't worth a damn if he didn't have a job. That was true then and it's true today.
Communities build on the quality of jobs they offer. Mr. Nails' vision for the new park is in line with the kind of communities we all want. "I see it as a first-class park ... We want this to be a jewel for Morgan County, just like Mallard Fox Creek is," he said.
Borg-Warner needs to stick in public officials' minds as they talk about how to fund the proposed park.