Commissioners Announce Rainbow City Mega-Site Partnership

The Etowah County Commission on Tuesday approved a memorandum of understanding formally establishing a working relationship with Rainbow City regarding the Little Canoe Creek megasite.

“We’ve known for a long time that Etowah County needed a partner who could provide basic infrastructure and services to move into the next phase of development,” said Commission Chairman Johnny Grant.

“Rainbow City is the perfect fit for Little Canoe Creek. This agreement shows this area and region that government groups can cooperate,” said Rainbow City Mayor Joe Taylor. “Being this close-knit allows us to go back and redevelop the land we have in the county to best suit what we need.”

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Taylor said he expects approval of the memorandum of understanding by the Rainbow City Council on Wednesday.

The memorandum of understanding will allow Rainbow City to help “facilitate the installation of water and sewer and improve the marketing of the site.”

It also makes it possible to lay the foundations for possible future economic development agreements that could arise when the first industrial agreement for the site is obtained.

The MOU will also annex the site further into Rainbow City’s corporate boundary, allowing it to receive assistance from the city and giving it access to first responders, such as police or firefighters, if necessary.

“It will also allow this mega-site to be the engine of economic development that will drive Etowah County forward,” Taylor added.

This decision will also allow for a provision in the MOU for “reimbursement to Etowah County for its investment in the (mega-site)”. This means that once a new industry agrees to set up shop on the site, Rainbow City will then commit to buying the project on commission; Little Canoe Creek will continue to be under the commission’s ownership and marketing system until then.

“In the meantime, the commission will continue to move forward with the development and marketing of the site,” said administrative director Shane Ellison.

Ellison explained that the site’s current construction company, Waites Construction, is working to complete Phase 1 of the Growing Alabama project which allows them to develop the site through the creation of a 70-acre platform. Bids for Phase 2 began last week, with a contract to be awarded later this month at the next formal committee meeting.

“There are three projects going on as we speak, which is a lot of activity and attention,” he said. “Phase two will expand the pad size to 100 acres and connect a new industrial access road to Wesson Lake Road which will provide secondary access.”

Construction of these two phases will have an estimated total cost of $5.7 million, which was funded by Norfolk Southern Railroad through the Growing Alabama grant program. The company marketed Little Canoe Creek as one of its “Prime Site” locations and said it would market the site “aggressively”.

“I got my first email about this site eight or nine years ago and referred it to business development for their help,” said Elizabeth Lawlor, resident vice president of government relations at Norfolk. Southern. “To see this collective energy and this partnership at this level is impressive.”

Other companies have also invested in the Mega-Site. Alabama Power will add a new electrical substation to the construction and relocate transmission lines to the site, while Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood, the project’s engineering consultants, will develop plans for the installation of water lines and of sewers.

“We will continue our investments and support. As a citizen, thank you all for working together and pulling the cart in the same direction,” said Spencer Williams, community relations manager at Alabama Power.

Commissioners spoke in favor of the partnership, citing how “historic” this partnership would be in the future.

“This project is in my district, which makes me a little biased, but it’s a big step forward for our county,” said Tim Ramsey. “It will be a great partnership moving forward.”

Joey Statum added, “I’m super excited for this partnership. It’s bigger than people realize. Not only does this affect us, but it affects the state, the Southeast, and people will feel its effects nationwide. It is historic what is happening and will impact generations to come.

Taylor praised the commission for its leadership throughout the site’s development, citing the partnership as “proof” that his leadership was moving the county forward.

“This conversation started with one-on-one conversations between me and other commissioners,” he said. “This is just the next step we need to take, and this partnership will allow us to get out there and start pulling the wagon with you all. We are now on the right track to get us where we need to be. be.