Thursday, February 18, 2016

Intermodal Talks Marketing/Public Relations

After reviewing finances and hearing a report on the status of ongoing construction projects, the Southeast Arkansas Intermodal Authority spent the majority of the February 17, 2016 board meeting talking about ways to market the facility and the problem with a portion of the public in both Drew and Bradley counties not understanding the purpose of the intermodal project and criticism of the expenditures made by the local governments that created the authority.  There was a good deal of talk about the need to further educate the city councils and quorum courts as well as the general public relating to the benefits of the intermodal park and the amount of total investment in the facility, most of which is federal grant money.

The board voted to pay current bills including $4394.02 in interest to Commercial Bank.  The interest covered two months.  According to the financial report, the following is being charged to each county and city as of February, 17th:
Drew County-$174,497.72
Bradley County-$244,394.22

As of the date of the financial statement, the intermodal owes Commercial Bank $509,147.19.  It is estimated the final note will be in the range of $300,000.00 once all grants are received and bills are paid.  It was also reported to the board that the most current audit should be complete soon.

The authority's consulting engineer informed the board that a private land owner near the park has written a letter alleging damage to his adjoining property as a result of sandblasting work on the new water tank.  The board voted to consult an attorney concerning the matter.

Kevin Sexton with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission talked about the most critical factors looked at by companies as they consider manufacturing locations.  He said the top ten items are as follows:
10. Low corporate taxes-the state set those rates
   9. Energy availability
   8. Proximity to markets
   7. Right to work state
   6. Labor cost
   5. Availability of skilled labor
   4. Suitable building
   3. Free land
   2. Construction cost for facilities
   1. Highway accessibility

As  has been previously reported, Mayor Bryan Martin of Warren has stated that the City of Warren has budgeted $30,000 for the intermodal for 2016, and he intends to continue to recommend to the city council to budget funds annually to be paid to the intermodal to help pay the expenses of the construction work that has been conducted.  Mayor Tucker of Monticello has likewise stated that Monticello will continue to assist.  Drew County Judge Akin has commented that upon receipt of the current audit, that he will recommend that Drew County contribute.  There has been no recent comments from Bradley County as to what the county can or will do.  It should be noted that while the authority is a creation of the two counties and two cities, there is no general liability to any of the four entities.  In other words, the counties and cities are not legally liable for any expenses of the authority, unless the councils and quorum courts vote to contribute.

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