This post is a little long, however I wanted everyone to get a clear picture of the B.S. the citizens of Baldwin County are being forced fed by what is called Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance.
Baldwin County citizens, especially Baldwin county employees, have waited 10 years for a project that started on the wrong track and never got off it. The Ripp Report has been following the Mega-site black hole since the original 32 million dollar purchase of the land.
Lamar Advertising concerned billboard at Baldwin County mega site won't have enough traffic. http://t.co/QyRulbaUhL
— AL.com Mobile (@ALcomMobile) March 27, 2013
Baldwin Mega Site still looking for big industry: Baldwin County's 3,009 acre Mega Site cost the county $30… http://t.co/YUrRGcrAKE
— Pensacola Daily News (@PensacolaDaily) September 2, 2014
In 2015, with no sign, no identity, no infrastructure, no rail, no water or power, and no constructive sales package, the county commission continued to pour good money after bad into the Mega-site, without any audit.
“According to Treasurer Kimberly Creech, the Baldwin County Commission unanimously approved paying $25,976,500 to the Crosby Trust and $6,312,500 to Catawba Land Company LLC for the property in 2012. The county has since paid $8.5 million on the debt but still owes $23,775,798, which Creech said is divided into a $10,350,000 debt tied to the county’s 2014 General Obligation Warrant and a $13,425,798.99 debt remaining on the $15 million it borrowed from its own oil and gas trust fund.
The county makes annual payments of $392,790 for the General Obligation Warrant and starting in 2020 it will make annual payments of $762,790. It pays $1,297,508 per year to the oil and gas trust fund.”
This is a very big deal advanced manufacturing in the U.S., for car manufacturing states like Alabama and particularly for Baldwin County’s certified Mega Site. https://t.co/1YHtClAiIb
— Senator Chris Elliott (@SenatorElliott) August 28, 2018
One thing that has been consistent is the flow of false and misleading information from the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance. President and CEO of BCEDA, Lee Lawson who has claimed the site was “shovel ready” for years when in fact the site did not even have a sign, or gate, for years.
I have heard Mr. Lawson speak about the Fairhope Airport in the exact same terms as the mega-site. He will exaggerate potential sales and the need for the Airport or Mega-site. He will never provide any solid proof or contracts to back up his claims.
“Last year, Lawson reported courting some 55 to 60 “real inquiries” from potential developers over the past eight years. Last week, he said economic development officials nationwide are recognizing a recent uptick of interest for “shovel-ready” mega sites. But he also believes the ongoing investment into the South Alabama Mega Site will eliminate both time and extraneous costs, making future development more attractive to investors.”
Lawson brags about 55 to 60 inquiries, and the site being, shovel ready. This is the same lecture over and over again. If you show something for sale or lease, 55 to 60 times, and do not sell it, then something is not right or you are full of B.S. Lawson would be a lousy fisherman if he used the same bait 55 to 60 times and never caught a fish and never changed bait.
“Baldwin County Budget Director Ron Cink said aside from the initial purchase price, taxpayers have invested $150,000 more into the Mega Site to pay for improvements to access and visibility. Around $15 million of the debt remains outstanding, with about $8 million owed to the county’s oil and gas trust fund from the general fund, plus around $7 million in general obligation warrants.
Speaking generally about the total amount of the investment, Cink said it is around $48 million, including interest. BCEDA is a nonprofit organization, but receives hundreds of thousands of dollars every year in funding from the County Commission and local municipalities.
Baldwin County Budget Director Ron Cink said aside from the initial purchase price, taxpayers have invested $150,000 more into the Mega Site to pay for improvements to access and visibility. Around $15 million of the debt remains outstanding, with about $8 million owed to the county’s oil and gas trust fund from the general fund, plus around $7 million in general obligation warrants.”
“There’s always that possibility the next enhancement is a vertical enhancement, but we’re hopeful somebody else will do that investment,” he said, adding the county intends to sell the property to developers rather than lease it.
Mr Lawson is now claiming the county will sell the property rather than a joint venture into the future.”This is 100% different than what has been proposed to the county commissioners and citizens. Who and when was this decision made?
Mr. Lawson has said we were dead last in the Mega-site race in the southeast. He explained by being last we are now the last remaining Mega-site available, so we are, by default first. That is his sales pitch? Lee omitted Georgia where not only did they sell their Mega-site they purchased another one with those proceeds.
“The Growing Alabama Tax Credit program, managed by the Alabama Commerce Department, allows private companies and individuals to get a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for investing in preparation and infrastructure improvements to industrial sites.”
The above article was featured as a, Submitted Article. That means that BCEDA either paid for the article or the Gulf Coast News pushed the propaganda for free.
“This opportunity further strengthens Baldwin County’s place as Alabama’s leader for incoming business investment and growth and can lead the way in making paradise even better,” said Baldwin County Commissioner Joe Davis. “ He must have taken the same sales class Lawson did.
If Commissioner Davis really believes, what he is saying, then he should push for an audit of the Mega-site.
The improvements being made to the Mega-site with the recent 12.5 million from the Growing Alabama Tax Credit Program, are improvements that should have been made at purchase of the property not 10 years later. The site never had a sign or identity until the Ripp Report and Lagniappe, made it an issue.
The bottom line is that 32 million in 2012, almost 10 years ago, would probably be a value of 50 million today, taking into consideration LOST OPPORTUNITY. Another example of county commissioners and economic development actions, was the recent penny school tax that they skimmed a cool 5 million dollars for county infrastructure projects while telling everyone what a good deal they made.
What they did not tell you is the schools now have 5 million less. A deal with the devil and no one got to vote on it.
You talk about spin! This is classic, we the citizens of Baldwin County, after investing 32 million, are now being told there are no mega sites in Alabama left except the one in Baldwin County. So we are dead last, but the only choice? That is one hell of a sales pitch.
The Baldwin County Mega-site project needs a forensic audit of all money invested and listing of the contractors and the third party contractors. Baldwin County has an infamous reputation for trustees, board members, lawyers and judges “self serving” contracts to themselves or third parties.
Their should also be a formal inquiry into the staff and board members of BCEDA. Have they or their families profited from good ole boy deals? other than their fat paychecks.
The only economic development coming from the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance is the payroll the citizens of Baldwin County are footing for BCEDA. If Mr Lawson was in the private sector, with the track record he has as CEO of BCEDA, he would have been fired years ago.