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State funding will help industry expand

A growing Brookhaven business will benefit from a $250,000 RuralImpact grant announced this week by the Mississippi DevelopmentAuthority, chamber of commerce officials.

Sola Fide, Inc. will use the grant and company funds toconstruct a new 20,000-square-feet building to expand thewarehousing operation that is currently located in the old AuburnSportswear building.

The company functions as a regional warehouse for storage of rawmaterials used primarily in the plastics industry.

“We’re out of space,” said Bert Carollo, Sola Fide president.The company also handles storage of phone books and various otheritems on a short-term basis.

The state grant will be administered by the chamber of commerce,and the city of Brookhaven will oversee bid processes related toconstruction, said Chandler Russ, chamber of commerce executivevice-president. Mayor Bill Godbold mentioned the grant during thisweek’s city board meeting.

“We’re anxious to begin the process of building the20,000-square-feet facility for Sola Fide,” Russ said.

The new building will be located on five acres of the 40-acreFender property, near the current industrial park, that the cityand chamber recently agreed to purchase. Russ said he hopes to havea planning meeting with Sola Fide and city officials as soon aspossible to discuss the project.

“We’ve got to wait on some good weather to start clearing thesite,” said Carollo, adding that he hopes completion of thepreliminary work could coincide with the arrival of the goodweather so the project is not delayed.

Carollo said Sola Fide is looking to add five to sevenemployees, including four who have already been hired inanticipation of the expansion.

To handle its current warehouse obligations, Carollo said SolaFide is renting space at Brookhaven Outreach Ministries and at alocation in Jackson.

“We were completely full until a few weeks ago,” Carollo said.”The suppliers are refilling us now.”

Storage time at Sola Fide is generally around six to eightweeks, Carollo said. The Brookhaven operation sends materialsprimarily to Tennessee, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi.

The chamber’s speculative building in the industrial park wasoriginally eyed as the new Sola Fide warehouse location.

However, environmental concerns about that property promptedSola Fide to look elsewhere. Carollo was hopeful that speculativebuilding could be used once the environmental issues areresolved.

“It’s still our hope to one day get that building,” Carollosaid.

Russ said the grant award was good news for the community.

Also significant is that the Sola Fide grant was the secondawarded to Brookhaven and Lincoln County this year, Russ said.Earlier, the community received a $250,000 grant to help a CortezByrd lumber operation expand west of the city.

Russ said the two grants represent 5 percent of the total $10million that was available statewide in the Rural Impact grantaccount.

“We’re real pleased to be able to secure two grants for thisarea,” Russ said.