Ashley Biles Associate Editor
December 9, 2013
At their November board meeting the Thomaston-Upson Industrial Development Authority executed bond financing for Lancaster Energy on behalf of the City of Thomaston. The financing is for $14 million in tax exempt bonds. Lancaster Energy is a bio mass company which has been a part of the community for the last two years, but ran into a few snags preventing them from opening in the old Thomaston Mills co-generation plant located off Edgewood Avenue.
The company uses wood waste to manufacture electricity and will be producing around 16 and a half megawatts of electricity at the Thomaston plant. They are in the process of finishing construction on the plant and had stated in July that they had hoped to be open by the end of this year. They will employee around 17 people once open.
Executive Director Kyle Fletcher told the board she had been notified that Upson County is no longer in the running for Project Clover, which is the code name given to Beretta Firearms. She noted that she always likes to follow up with project managers after a project closes to see if they can offer any insight as to why our community was not selected, however it is sometimes hard to get anything specific prior to the company closing out the project completely.
“I think feedback would only help us,” said Fletcher. “It may be something we have no control over, we can’t pick up and move our location, but if it is an infrastructure issue, we may be able to change something.”
In reference to that thought, Mayor Hays Arnold told the board he had spoken with Darrell Ingram of Electric Cities of Georgia recently who stated Thomaston and Upson County made an excellent presentation on the community the day that Project Clover visited.
“He was very explicit in saying our community made the best proposal they got the entire day,” Arnold stated. “He didn’t want us to think otherwise. He wouldn’t go any further, but he just wanted us to know it wasn’t anything we did or did not do with the presentation.”
Fletcher concurred that was what she had heard as well from the project managers and noted that oftentimes it comes down to incentives being offered on the state level. Currently the competition is fierce throughout the southeast for landing industries.
Also during the meeting, the board honored Chief Appraiser Jim Davis, who will be retiring at the end of this year. The board thanked Davis for all of his work with the TUIDA and stated they would like to keep in contact as well.
“We very much want to thank you and one of the best ways we can do this is by passing a resolution to keep a connection with you,” said Billy Johnston, TUIDA chairman. “So when we have a presentation like we did with Beretta, then you can come down and do your thing. We certainly do appreciate your input and help and thank you for your work with the IDA over the last three and a half years.”
Davis thanked the board and stated he has truly enjoyed working with the TUIDA during his time in Upson County.
“I have enjoyed all of my days here, not the least of which has been my involvement with the IDA,” said Davis. “What little bit I have been able to contribute to try to improve the job aspect and the economic standing of this community has been among my highest honors. And I mean that with all the sincerity I’ve got. I’ll miss all of you but I will still be around.”
Davis stated that he plans to do some part time work as well as some teaching and consulting, but will still be living in Macon and will still serve as a resource in any way possible for the board.
In other business, the board passed a confidentiality agreement for when it comes to dealing with the sensitive nature of industry recruitment. The agreement stated that information disseminated in a public forum could be detrimental to the TUIDA’s recruitment efforts and the release of all information will be approved by the Executive Director.
Finally, the board approved the purchase of a high definition automatic projector, screen and speakers for the conference room located at the Thomaston-Upson Airport. The board approved purchasing the package from Fusion Point for just over $5,000. The projector will be particularly helpful when it comes to showing presentations to prospects when they fly in to visit the community.