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.

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.”

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.

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17 Comments on "MEGA — LOST OPPORTUNITY"

  1. Number One | July 30, 2021 at 7:56 pm |

    Elliot said this was gonna be sold fast after he was elected. What a pathological liar.

  2. amos he famous | July 31, 2021 at 7:03 am |

    Baldwin County has no planning department yet they planned this. HELLO!
    Mister Ripp at times it seems no one cares. I guess ignorance is truly bliss in BC.

  3. MEGA MAGA | July 31, 2021 at 7:51 am |

    I was part of that deal. Scored nearly $50k or my services. It’s all good. It may suck to be you but it’s great to be me.

  4. Long Live Rush | July 31, 2021 at 9:47 am |

    Baldwin is the fastest growing county in the great state of AL! This is by reason and design! Wait until we get the right people and mix of education and new roads (in the works now with our republican delegation in Montgomery) and we will be living high on the hog Ripp!!!
    You are so insanely jealous of the politicians kicking ass! Why are we number one???

  5. Our towns, Our County. Our world | July 31, 2021 at 9:59 am |

    Remember folks, this is our world and the politicians associated with Catalyst and y’all are just in it. Think about this for a second or two. Now reflect on it.
    Now, doesn’t your little world make better sense?

  6. Anonymous | July 31, 2021 at 1:51 pm |

    Lee Lawson should run for a typical Alabama politician because that’s basically what he is. A lot of talk and no accountabikity or results – no different than Chris Elliott.

    Baldwin County Economic Alliance exists to pay Lee to talk about stats and travel expense. Lee takes money from local government and federal grants for self benefit with little benefit to the taxpayer. Anyone who had his track record would have been fired or voted out.

    As one of the fastest growing counties in the country, economic development is not a hard job! Our county has much to offer and I believe so much more could have been accomplished if these tax dollars were spent on genuine, accountable economic development.

  7. Mega Shite.

  8. Platoon V | July 31, 2021 at 9:26 pm |

    Looks like a super big cat box. Put up a sign and draw tourists. We need new money in the area.

  9. Longtimer fh | August 1, 2021 at 10:12 am |

    Everybody is moving here. It must really suck. Geez Ripp. Spin positive for just once. How about look at the bright side for a change? We are a great place to live despite the bad politics. That’s what you don’t see because Mayor Kant ticked you off.

    • People are moving in here because the Catalyst politicians who are owned by Truland and DR Horton are allowing mega-subdivisions to be dropped all over the place

    • Francis Paul Ripp | August 2, 2021 at 7:46 am |

      The mega-site could not find 800 to 1500 employees. It is a fantastic place to live, that should not be the reason to accept the blatant corruption. You are right Tim Kant was so corrupt I decided to become involved with local politics. I am pleased to say The Ripp Report has been very successful on many consumer and corruption issues.

  10. Is Fairhope still a good place to retire?
    I hear the schools are crowded. Is it a bedroom community or for retired folks?
    I may buy soon. Mom is there.

    • Francis Paul Ripp | August 2, 2021 at 3:07 pm |

      Fairhope is a fantastic place to retire, just be willing to see political corruption in your face

  11. Anonfhproper | August 2, 2021 at 9:18 pm |

    They pump poo in the bay. Try daphne

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