By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
According to regional economic development officials, the new sign recently placed at the entrance to Atmore’s Rivercane Industrial Park should give an identity to the park, inform motorists what industries operate within the park and help suppliers more easily find the industry to whom they are delivering.
The sign, paid for with surplus money from one of the grants obtained two years ago when Brown Precision became Rivercane’s first industrial occupant, consists of a brick frame with metal rows upon which the names of new industries may be hung as they choose Rivercane for a home.
“We think companies will welcome the opportunity to get their name and logo on the sign, and just from a purely logistical standpoint, it will help delivery trucks find it,” said Jess Nicholas, associate director of Coastal Gateway Economic Development Alliance. “Having a sign for the industrial park itself identifies it as a destination.”
Nicholas said CGEDA helped write the grant that included construction and placement of the sign, one of at least four grants the city received when Brown Precision announced its intent to erect a $7 million aerospace manufacturing facility in the municipal industrial park.
“You’ve no doubt noticed the U.S. Economic Development Administration sign that has been at that intersection for some time, but EDA wasn’t the only granting agency involved in the project,” he explained. “Atmore received funds from ADECA, Delta Regional Authority, EDA and I’m pretty sure there was some (Community Development Block Grant) money involved as well. I believe the specific grant dealing with the sign was the one from DRA, although the DRA grant also paid for other things.
“There were also in-kind contributions made from Brown Precision for hooking up fiber for the entire park (not just their plant), and I believe Uniti Southern Light provided more fiber services at a discount.”
The economic development official pointed out that Escambia County is fast becoming an important cog in the burgeoning aerospace and technology industries that have blossomed outward from Mobile over the past several years.
“Escambia County in general is developing somewhat of an aerospace and technology ‘hub,’ if you will,” Nicholas said. “Between Brown Precision, Muskogee Technology, Frontier Technology in Brewton (a GE Wind Energy supplier) and Longleaf Machining, among others, Escambia sort of represents the next ring around the Mobile aerospace cluster.”
The effort to make the industrial park and Coastal Alabama Community College just across from its entrance more visible is an ongoing process.
“With that opportunity comes some expectations from the companies you’re trying to recruit,” said Nicholas. “Part of the process includes upgrading Exit 57 as a whole. (Atmore) Mayor (Jim) Staff has been trying to get the exit itself illuminated ever since he took office, but that’s very expensive. Wayfinding and signage are also an issue, as is publicity of the fact that we’ve got a community college campus right there across from the industrial park.”