Lauderdale County officials hope there is some good news for a plant site that had great promise a few years ago but died.
In 2006, Shuqualak Lumber Company announced it would be building a new processed wood product manufacturing plant, called Loblolly Industries, at the Sonny Montgomery Industrial Park. Loblolly never built the plant, leaving the county on the hook for the millions it had spent on the site.
This week, Lauderdale County supervisors voted 3-2 to accept a letter of intent from a company interested in locating in the abandoned Loblolly site, which is owned by the county.
Officials said the company, Maridale LLC, would have six months to do its homework and decide if it want to locate here. If so, it will have 18 months to exercise a lease that would run for 30 years.
The rest of the details are secret - under a confidentiality contract signed with the county.
That agreement also means other details - such as how many jobs Maridale would provide - are confidential.
According the letter of intent, the company plans to purchase a one year option on the property for $30,000.
"Maridale is a Mississippi-based company that intends after optioning the site to enter into a long term lease of 30 years to construct facilities, make an investment, and employ Mississippians and residents of west Alabama in the future," said Wade Jones, president of the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation.
The vote on the letter of intent was 3-2, with county supervisors Ray Boswell and Wayman Newell voting against it. Boswell said he didn't have time to properly read the contract before voting.
"And the three that voted for it never read the contract. I'm tired of voting for contacts that nobody reads. Not even the attorney reads it," Boswell said.
Newell said he voted against it because the agreement would spill over into another term, and he said he doesn't want to vote on behalf of future boards.
The county took out a $10 million bond to make improvements to the site in 2006. If another company leases the property, it will help the county pay the debt service on the bond. Until now, the county has been paying the debt service using left over money from the bond.