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Rivercane receives AdvantageSite certification

At the presentation Monday afternoon, from left, Mayor Jim Staff, Will Ruzic, Sean Lytle, Melissa Mehaffey, Jess Nicholas, Dr. John Johnson.

Atmore city officials got an early Christmas present during the city council’s Monday, Dec. 12, meeting – the last regular council session of the year – when Rivercane Industrial Park was officially designated the 55th industrial development location in Alabama to become certified as an AdvantageSite.

The designation, granted by Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, was the result of a collaborative effort between the city, Coastal Gateway Regional Economic Development Alliance, and Goodwyn Mills Cawood architectural and engineering firm.

“We want to congratulate the city of Atmore, Coastal Gateway and GMC on an amazing, great job that y’all have done,” said EDPA’s Information Technology and GIS Analyst Sean Lytle. “Coastal Gateway, I have to take my hat off to them. GMC also did a very great job and made the certification very easy.”

CGREDA’s Jess Nicholas explained prior to the meeting that the AdvantageSite certification was not only a big part of the decision by Brown Precision to locate a manufacturing plant here, but would make it easier to procure other industrial concerns in the future.

“EDPA certifies up to five sites per year as being ‘shovel ready’ for industry,” Nicholas said. “It’s a long process, and not cheap. It usually takes about a year to go through the process, if not longer, and involves doing all the preliminary studies – such as geotech, environmental, threatened species, artifacts, etc. – so that when industries go looking for a home, they know that AdvantageSites can be ready quickly.”

“It helped Atmore get Brown Precision because all the site investigation had already been done for Brown’s site,” he added.

Dr. John Johnson, Coastal Gateway’s executive director, said the local site represented one of the largest in the state to receive the AdvantageSite certification. He agreed that the designation would make Rivercane an attractive possibility for other companies looking to locate in South Alabama.

“There are 611 acres, some on each side of Interstate 65, and that makes Rivercane one of the larger AdvantageSites in the state,” he said. “This is a huge advantage for the city of Atmore. I think it’s a beautiful site; you’ve already landed one industry there, and you’re going to land several more.”

He also praised the work done by GMC’s Melissa Mehaffey and city codes inspector-engineer Greg Vaughn. Will Ruzic with Coastal Gateway was also at the council meeting.

Councilwoman Susan Smith generated a round of laughter when she asked Johnson to “tell us which industries we’re going to land.”

The council also gave unanimous approval to the administrative and engineering proposals for the impending sewer renovation projects on Trout and Bream streets, as well as the city’s Americans With Disabilities Act transition plan.

City employee Jeremy Ray explained that the plan “identifies the city’s physical barriers” and “lists its deficiencies and a timeline to get them repaired.”

Mayor Jim Staff reflected that Atmore is “probably one of the few small cities that are in (ADA) compliance.” He said the city would bear the expense of implementing the unfunded mandate.