Questions raised on Alcorn development loan

county_alcorn_greenBy Lena Mitchell

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH – A public hearing Friday on an application for a state economic development loan of up to $1 million drew unexpected questions and comments from two people attending the regular mid-month Alcorn County supervisors meeting.

The board voted to approve submitting a loan application to the Mississippi Development Authority for purchase and renovation of a building at Tate Street and Davis Drive that years ago housed Chadco Shirt Factory.

With proceeds of the loan, which currently is expected to be $550,000, said grants administrator Wanda Christian of Northeast Mississippi Planning and Development District, the county will purchase the building and use additional funds of $1.3 million from state and federal grants and loans for extensive renovations.

The building is being prepared for lease to an economic development prospect which public officials declined to name, and the business will – over a seven-year period – repay the county through a lease-purchase agreement, Christian said.

County resident John Newcomb raised questions about whether the county is making a purchase for a business, rather than the business advancing its own funds for the purchase. He also asked if county taxpayers would be paying off this loan with no benefit to the county.

Christian and Gary Chandler, president of The Alliance economic development organization, explained that the Mississippi Development Authority makes these funds available to support job expansion through private employers throughout the state.

Not only will the company repay the loan to purchase the building, but it also has committed to expand its employment base in Corinth. The business, they said, is headquartered in Corinth and currently is housed in three locations around the city. The building purchase will allow them to consolidate their services in one location while adding space to accommodate the employees they plan to add.

Tax Collector Larry Ross, while agreeing that the plan seems like a sound investment for the county, asked that supervisors consider asking the business owner to indemnify the county against possible losses in case of his death during the seven-year lease-purchase period.

The board did not act on that recommendation.