Pictured is an aerial view of the Golden Triangle Regional Global Industrial Aerospace Park west of the Golden Triangle Regional Airport. Infrastructure development, including roads and sewer installation, will continue through the summer for the 2,500 acre site. Photo by: Courtesy photo/Golden Triangle Development LINK
June 28, 2014 10:30:36 PM
The transformation of the prairie into a sprawling industrial haven continues.
In the last three years, Lowndes County has borrowed $14 million from the Rural Development Authority to purchase 2,500 acres of land west of the Golden Triangle Regional Airport for future development.
The 1-million gallon water tower logo installed on the new land informs passers by that it is known as Golden Triangle Regional Global Industrial Aerospace Park. Truly, it's an extension and rebranding of the existing Golden Triangle Industrial Park on the east side of the airport. The only difference between the two groups of land is where they are. Their purposes are the same: Bring high-paying jobs in the automotive and aerospace industries to the Golden Triangle.
The 3,500-plus acres east of the third busiest airport in the state acquired before the more recent land purchases already hosts heavyweight manufacturers including Severstal, PACCAR and Airbus, among many other facilities that make products used in the aerospace, automotive, metals and wood industries and have created thousands of jobs for people in east Mississippi and west Alabama.
The newly acquired land on the west side of the airport is under rapid development. On tap for completion by late this summer is the installation of three new sewer lines and paving a road already being built on the site. Expansion of the wastewater plant that serves the existing park is underway and will serve both the east and west side. Two 1,500-gallon-per-minute wells are already installed.
While this is going on, the Golden Triangle Development LINK, which continues to work with the county through the expansion process, is entertaining potential clients for the new site. A third-party logistics and support company for PACCAR is one potential development, LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins said, while other prospects in the aerospace and automotive industries are eyeing the new site. In all, the new land has a potential $1 billion in prospects with their eyes on it.
"We're not going to cut the ribbon on it and say it's truly open for business until we get the sewer in," Higgins said. "(Sewer and road installation) is part of opening up this whole west side."
Some of the currently vacant land is being leased for farming while the LINK continues to show it to prospects who may locate there.
What will be the first industry on par with Severstal and other large-scale projects in terms of job creation to locate on the new land remains to be seen, but Higgins said the infrastructure being installed there will be designed to support several of them.
"Generally, I think you're going to see some advanced automotive and aerospace component manufacturers," Higgins said. "Large capital expenditures and a large number of jobs. You're going to have diesel engines for a long time. You're going to have steel for a long time. You're going to have helicopters for a long time."
Long-range planning is the key, he added, as it's paramount to ensuring that who goes there makes products that will be needed for many years. This not only goes for the new land, but for land on the eastern side that is still ripe for industry.
Personifying that is Langston Circle, which can be accessed from Industrial Park Road. It's not a circle yet because each entrance dead ends. Another company locating a facility there would be another win for the LINK and Lowndes County as well as a catalyst to complete that circle.
"We would not have built a four-lane road for PACCAR's truck delivery docks if that's all we thought we were ever going to do," Higgins said. "We knew we wanted to develop the other side, so this is platted all the way through as a four-lane road."
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
1. Man arrested after allegedly shooting into murder victim's home COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
2. Local attorney invited to inauguration COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
3. Columbus hires police consultant COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY