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A done deal?

Official ‘almost completely’ convinced peanut mill coming

News Staff Writer

Although local economic development officials don’t want to count their proverbial chicks until they hatch, at least one said he was “almost completely” sure officials of a proposed $85 million peanut shelling plant will choose to locate within Atmore Industrial Park.
At a Monday, August 10, meeting of Atmore Industrial Development Board, Jess Nicholas of Centerforce Economic and Alex Jones, who has worked with Nicholas in formulating an incentive package that might bring the peanut mill here, explained the benefits of the industrial concern, should it be built here.
Nicholas and Jones have been working on the financial end of the transaction for a year. They feel that the economic impact — immediate and future — of the plant, which intends to employ “between 100 and 150” when it is up and running, is more than significant.
“A peanut mill might not sound like the most high-profile industry in the world, but the impact this is going to have on the region is something we are really excited about,” Nicholas said. “We’re looking at a company that intends to employ 100 to 150 people, at an average wage of $17 per hour, plus benefits, and plans to invest $80 million to $90 million in capital expenditures, here in this county.”
Nicholas added that company officials can “begin turning dirt” on the shelling plant, which will be located near Masland Carpet, in October, if the project is finalized “in the next week or so.”
If site prep begins in October, and no major snags develop during construction, the plant is expected to be built by November 2021, with production set to begin in January or February 2022.
AIDB member Dr. Ulysses McBride wanted to know how confident the economic development professional was that the plant would locate here.
“Do we have it?” he asked. “Does Atmore have it, or is it still up in the air?”
Nicholas replied that part of a meeting held August 7 in Donalsonville, Ga. Included development of “the language for a local project agreement.”
McBride asked, “Is that a yes or a no? Is it 75-25 (percent) that it’s coming here?”
Nicholas said he was “more than 80 percent sure” that it was. AIDB member Jim Johnson then asked Nicholas his level of optimism.
“I am optimistic, but of course I’m an optimist anyway,” he said, explaining that his optimism was “based on the feedback I’ve received.”
Officials of the as-yet-unidentified company and Gov. Kay Ivey will make the official announcement when a project agreement is signed by all parties.