Development Authority Director Presents Plan for MoCo Industrial Park Revamp
Montgomery County Development Authority Executive Director Joe Filippone presented his vision for the further development of the county’s industrial park at a Montgomery County Commission work session on September 9. Filippone explained to the Commission that the Montgomery County economy has been doing well because of the large focus on retail within the area. He shared a similar message in the recent Economic Development Region 9 meeting where he explained the success of retail in the area through existing local businesses, as well as a new business opening in Mount Vernon. “We opened an ACE Hardware Store in Montgomery County – that is huge for us,” he said. Filippone also took note of the opportunity for more retail businesses to come into the area through the occupation of vacated spaces. According to Filippone, the space adjacent to Subway, which previously housed the Family Dollar franchise, along with the warehouse space behind the Montgomery County Courthouse are both for sale. Filippone noted the County could face a struggle because of population growth. “From my experience and what I am seeing now, people from the North come here because property costs less,” he told the Commission. Due to an increase in population, property values and taxes could rise because of the need for more police, firefighters, and other services in the area; he stated this property tax would fall on homeowners without industry in the area, creating an issue of higher rent and selective home ownership.
To combat these growing pains, Filippone argued the community must lobby for T-Splost, increase retail operations, and most importantly, further develop its industrial park. He pointed out that he was not suggesting starting from scratch. “This site (the industrial park) already has water, sewer, and natural gas.”
Filippone suggested improving the entrance and exits of the existing Montgomery County Industrial Park, which is vacant in the area surrounding the Montgomery County Elementary School. “Those entrances and exits are almost impossible for the semi-trucks to come out from,” he explained, referencing two accidents that had occurred at each roadway. “One roadway has too sharp a turn into and out of the industrial park, and the other roadway has no line of sight.”
To fix this issue, he suggested that the County and Development Authority investigate the purchase of a nearby Scruggs Company property, which currently houses a sandpit. Filippone said he had already begun talks with Scruggs, who seemed to be interested in selling for the right price.
Between the purchase of this property and the potential to purchase additional land from a private owner, the industrial park could gain around 300 acres. This would allow room for the construction of a suitable truck entrance and exit from the industrial park to Georgia Highway 221. To pay for such an investment, Fillppone told the Commission that he had become aware that another round of COVID money is coming, and there is a possibility the project could receive matching funds. Commissioner Chad Kenney informed Filippone that he may be interested in seeking grant money as a separate entity from the County through a Community Development Entitlement Grant because of the County being limited in how often its receives this grant. Other commissioners engaged in discussion with Filippone about possibilities within the property, ranging from different truck entrance plans to possible SPEC buildings.
No decision or action was taken regarding the project, but Filippone explained he will continue discussing pricing of property and possibilities for the time being. Filippone emphasized that unity throughout this process was imperative. “This must be a coordinated effort by every stake holder,” he told the Commission. “We must come in as a united front.”