September 20, 2013 9:41:26 AM
The Golden Triangle Development Link is developing plans to construct a speculative building at the Starkville Industrial Park to help lure potential development, Joey Deason, Oktibbeha County's Link representative, confirmed Thursday.
A speculative building -- "spec building" for short -- is designed based upon market demands and used by developers to lure potential investors to a community. Deason said the plan is still in the design phase -- preliminary architecture and engineering assessments are complete -- with no construction date announced.
Although no construction plans were available to the Dispatch, Deason said the market currently favors sites with more than 50,000 square feet in space and 30-foot-eaves - buildings which can handle significant in-house construction efforts.
Plans can change during construction, Deason said, if a suitor shows interest in the facility. Retrofitting and future expansions can also occur after its completion to tailor the building for specific industrial needs.
"As we move forward with our economic development plan, we're looking at what products we have in Starkville and what we have to entice future growth. Obviously, we do not have any buildings at this point," he said. "Quite a few of the projects we've entertained in the past six months are looking for existing buildings that are out there and ready to move forward."
Link representatives will search for grant funding for construction. Its price will be determined on size and exactly where it's located in the Starkville Industrial Park.
Combined, Oktibbeha County and Starkville have $10 million worth of economic development bonding capacity, but Deason said those monies should be held to land a significant jobs package.
"Depending on other projects, it could be perfect timing and a perfect fit," he said. "My ultimate goal on this spec building is that we would not use bonds on this. This is not a big enough piece. Now, if someone came in and needed to retrofit the building we put into action, and they're going to bring in 1,000 jobs, that's when we take a look (at the bonds to help solidify the project).
Lowndes County has experienced success using similar spec buildings to lure economic development. Since CalStar, a sustainable building material manufacturer, agreed to open a second plant at the spec building located near the Golden Triangle Regional Airport this year -- a move which will land 50-plus jobs -- Link CEO Joe Max Higgins announced his intention to create another similar site.
"It's bait. It gets people to look," he said Wednesday.
"This is a proven commodity. The strategy is working in Lowndes, and we're working to replicate it here," Deason added. "That spec building received a tremendous amount of views. What it does is bring prospects to the community. Regardless of whether they choose that building or not, now you have something that has hooked them in and made them aware of your community. Any time you can get a prospect or site-selection consultants to your town, it's a win."
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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