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Browning on Business: Columbus eyes corridor improvement project on Hwy. 45

 

William Browning

 

This is the first of what will be a weekly column appearing in The Dispatch each Thursday. The tone will be laidback, the news will be accurate and the topic will always be about business happenings in the Golden Triangle. 

 

Sometimes we'll talk about initiatives. 

 

Like the fact that Christina Berry, city planner for Columbus, is proposing a corridor improvement district for Highway 45 North that would run from the Magnolia Bowl to the city limits. That's a four-mile stretch and Berry said parcels included are 90 percent commercial. 

 

"Its main purpose is to create a positive sense of place amongst a heavily trafficked corridor to encourage and attract continued reinvestment," Berry said. 

 

It could include capital improvements, like street lights, signage, landscaping, sidewalks and public art. The district would "weigh heavily on addressing highway safety, traffic and access issues," Berry added. 

 

"The capital improvements for the district will be paid for be setting side new ad valorem tax revenue in a special fund to cover those costs," she said. 

 

Of course, the city council will have to approve both the district boundaries and revenue fund. 

 

There is a public meeting slated to take place from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Trotter Convention Center regarding the district. Business owners and private citizens will be able to view map boundaries and also provide ideas capital improvement ideas in writing to city officials. The meeting, Berry said, will be informal. 

 

"Making capital improvements along a major corridor brings value to any development project," Berry said. "It helps to improve or stabilize property values, it's attractive to investors and overall it improves the image of Columbus. Everyone utilizes Highway 45 for various reasons. Improving it would be just another example of their tax dollars at work." 

 

Sometimes this column will talk about business gatherings. 

 

Like the "Solar Array Open House" events that Synergetics DCS in Starkville is having this month and next. The company, which began in 1992, installed its first solar array in 2011 on the top of its warehouse. The array is currently the largest in the state. 

 

"The open house will educate business owners on the tax advantages of solar power and how to financially structure their projects to achieve positive cash flow as soon as year one," said J.R. Cromer, solar consultant with Synergetics. 

 

The open house seminars -- held today at 3 p.m. and on Nov. 21 at 3 p.m.; and Dec. 3 and 17 at 3 p.m. -- are free. A tour of the array and presentation on solar array ownership will be made. People interested in attending can register at www.synergetics-solar.com. 

 

And sometimes, this column will keep it simple. 

 

Like when we inform you that Jack's, a Birmingham, Ala.-based fast food chain, is getting closer to opening. A "Jack's" sign has gone up in front of the building that formerly housed Bojangles on Highway 45 North. 

 

Of course, we want your input for this column. Send items and tips to news@cdispatch or to wbrowning@cdispatch.com.

 

 

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