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West Point And Clay To Share From Megasite

Posted by R.H. Brown | July 11, 2012 / 04:56pm | Local News

WEST POINT, Miss. (WCBI) -- West Point, Clay County and the Lowndes County Development Link have struck a deal that will share the wealth of any new industries.

When West Point and Clay County agreed earlier this year to pay the Columbus Lowndes Development Link $350,000a year to bring new jobs to Clay County, the two governments knew it would require a partnership.

Now, with a 1,000-acre industrial site almost ready along Highway 45 Alternate on the city's northern edge, the two governments have agreed to share in any future success.

"West Point and Clay County are relatively small in what they can do on a project. It will probably take both of their bonding capacity to fund some of the things we think we might have to do there. Well you can't ask both of them to fund it if you can't ask them to share in some of the proceeds," said Link CEO Joe Higgins.

There was a meeting of the minds on Tuesday night at city hall in West Poin when city selectmen approved the arrangement that already has gotten the stamp of approval from county supervisors.

Under the agreement, the Link gets 10 percent of new tax revenues paid by a new company. The city and the county split the remaining 90 percent.

Higgins says a similar deal wouldn't work as well between Columbus and Lowndes County because industrial property is more spread out and the local governments are in better financial shape.

In Clay County, location made it more logical.

"The West Point site is in a real unique situation. The megasite that we have identified is actually just right on the edge of the city limits. The northeast corner of the city limits is the southwest corner of that megasite," Higgins explained.

The deal was made even easier since West Point schools cover almost the entire county so dividing school taxes really isn't an issue.

"On this particular case, whether it was in the city limits or right outside the city limits its still going to be the West Point City Schools. We don't have a differentiating school district. Only if it went real far west from where we are looking would you get into that other school district," said Higgins.

The site is said to be perfect for chemical, steel, metals and food-related industries.

And Higgins tells WCBI two major companies already have expressed an interest in the location.

The megasite should be ready for a formal pitch to industries as early as next month.

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