Friday, June 24, 2016

EDA negotiating with prospective Midway employer of 240, helping pursue idea of grain mill in Versailles

The Woodford County Economic Development Authority voted today to reject a letter of intent from a potential employer to buy its 43 acres of industrial property in Midway Station, but said it would continue negotiating with the prospect, which could employ 240 people.

The EDA board discussed the matter in a closed session, which is allowed under the Kentucky Open Meetings Act. After returning to open session, it took the vote and Chairman John Soper said negotiations will continue.

Soper told Fiscal Court 10 days ago that the CEO and four other executives of a California-based company looked at the site around June 1. He said Midway has "a real shot for competing against North Carolina and another city in Central Kentucky," and state inventory-tax incentives might be the deciding factor, The Woodford Sun reported last week.

Among other discussion, Soper said Columbia Gas won't run a line to the American Howa Kentucky plant under construction next to Midway Station, or the Brown-Forman whiskey warehouses to be build behind it, because the companies would use gas only for heating and "Gas used in production is what moves the needle" for extension of gas lines.

Soper said Brown-Forman might have "a little bit more pull" once it starts construction, but in the meantime EDA will pay for propane service to AHK with the escrowed profit it made selling the former Roach family property to the company. The profit was intended to help provide gas service.

EDA would find it "pretty hard" to pay for a gas line now, even with later rebates, because of its $4.7 million outstanding debt for Midway Station, EDA staffer Craig McAnelly said. Prospective developer Dennis Anderson is paying the $11,380 monthly interest on those bonds in return for the right to buy and develop the property.

The developer recently got encroachment permits from the city for a gas-and-convenience store and two other retail buildings at the front of Midway Station, and Soper said Anderson has filed a proposed amended plat for the development with the Planning Commission.

In an agriculture-related matter, Soper said local farm interests are very interested in getting a grain mill to supply the More than a Bakery plant to be built in Versailles. "The farming community is really rallying behind this thing," he said, and "sees this as a real possibility to create an ag-industrial complex" that could also include processing of wheat straw and industrial hemp.

Soper said More than a Bakery will use enough wheat and other grains to sustain 12,000 to 15,000 acres of crops, but advocates of the mill need to decide what its optimum size would be. He said they are consulting with Weisenberger Mills about that, and County Extension Agent for Agriculture Adam Probst wants to pursue the idea of a cooperative to build and operate the mill.

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