• 57°

New industrial site would boost odds on economic wins

In the economic development ball game, Brookhaven and LincolnCounty are quickly finding themselves out of the lineup and ridingthe bench as other communities’ players get the big hits.

Such was the message Thursday as chamber of commerce andIndustrial Development Foundation officials sought support fromcity and county leaders in an effort to find and create a newindustrial park.

This community has had its share of home runs in the past, theWal-Mart Distribution Center, Delphi Packard and McLane Southernamong them. Now, though, as available land has become occupied bywelcome new industry, economic development officials can only lookfor solid singles instead of the big home runs.

Every hit is important, but that’s only if we get to play.

Bill Sones, IDF Parks and Sites committee chairman, said anoption to buy 40 acres of land north of the current park is theonly thing keeping this community in the game. Other availableindustrial land is being used for other purposes, is too small andoddly-shaped or has potential environmental contaminationissues.

Industrial prospects are wanting 40-, 50- or 100-acres sites fortheir projects, and Brookhaven simply doesn’t have those to offernow. We are not getting a chance at the plate and in many casesaren’t even in the ball park.

Six sites are under consideration as a possible new industrialpark. All the sites have positive and negative aspects and anengineering study will eventually come up with arecommendation.

With estimates of $3.2 million to $4.4 million, a new industrialpark will be costly to acquire and develop, and it will be severalyears before it is ready for occupants. Our leaders must continueto take steps now to see that the park becomes a reality as soon aspossible.

Through employee payroll and property taxes, the 12 hits in thecurrent industrial park have a total economic impact of over $98.1million a year on this community. A new industrial park wouldcreate the opportunity for more economic development hits and homeruns.

Brookhaven and Lincoln County must become bigger players in thegame.

But we can’t score if we can’t play. A new industrial park willput us back on the playing field.