County’s Part Of Windsor Deal Done
By David Howell
WATER VALLEY, Miss. – With a $15 million investment from Windsor Foods, an estimated $1 million potential investment coming from the state and $70,000 from Yalobusha County, 250 jobs may be around the corner for Yalobusha County.
A deal between Windsor Foods and Community Bank is expected to close Friday on the ownership of a lease that includes the facility that previously housed Mississippi Beef Processors, LLC, according to board attorney John Crow.
The matter surfaced in a recessed board of supervisors meeting held Tuesday in Water Valley in which county officials signed off on numerous agreements involving Windsor Foods. Crow said that the county and Windsor had come to terms after more than five months of negotiations.
Crow said the company could begin operations during the first quarter of 2008.
Yalobusha County’s involvement is just one aspect of negotiations on the plate, but it is important, because the county owns the infrastructure and property at the site. Windsor is maneuvering to purchase a lease – from the county – that Community Bank currently holds on just over 33 acres. On that 33-plus acres lies the actual facility.
The county also owns 105 acres surrounding the facility, plus three acres of access roads and half an acre well site.
The deal could put 150 people to work in the first year, and promises – by way of a lease agreement – to put 250 people to work within three years. Of the 250 positions, 150 must be moderate to low-income. (“They contend they are going to do better than that,” Crow said.)
Windsor Foods spokesperson Lynn Sutter confirmed Tuesday that her company was working toward these agreements. If the deal is finalized Sutter said her company would release a statement regarding its newest acquisition.
Windsor Foods produces high-quality frozen foods for the consumer market, restaurants, and food service operations. The company operates 27 production lines and nine manufacturing plants in six states.
“We need the jobs,” State Representative Tommy Reynolds said about the potential industry coming to Oakland. “We need the economic development if we are going to grow.”
Located on the western edge of Yalobusha, infrastructure is the key ingredient for luring the food processing company into Oakland. This infrastructure includes natural gas service, water supply, wastewater treatment, and a $2 million Tennessee Valley Electric Power Association substation. County officials signed off on numerous agreements during a recessed board meeting held Tuesday in Coffeeville.
Spanning 125 pages
“We’ve been over it about 50 times,” Crow said Tuesday as supervisors prepared to vote to authorize the agreements.
The first document, addressed Tuesday, was the lease – currently with Community Bank – that the bank holds on just over 33 acres and the vacant building itself.
Crow explained Tuesday that Windsor officials wanted to amend the existing lease.
The second agreement addresses the water and wastewater usage.
Yalobusha County owns the waste water treatment facility, water tank, and water well that will service Windsor Foods. Crow explained that once Windsor Foods signs the document, they will immediately begin paying $2,000 monthly.
This rate will be applicable until operations start, specifically with three lines running, at which time the rate will increase to $3,500 per month. The company will operate three months at that rate without a wastewater fee. The county’s fee will eventually increase to $10,350 monthly, and will include wastewater treatment and water. The agreement also spells out that the county will provide a minimum of 200,000 gallons of water per day. Beginning at the fifth year mark, the fee will increase to $11,850 per month. Six years into the agreement, the Consumer Price Index will be used for adjustments.
A third agreement signed Tuesday was an access agreement easement in which the county gives Windsor Foods a non-exclusive easement across access roads to the plant.
A fourth agreement signed would terminate the current deal between Yalobusha County and Community Bank for a $2,000 monthly water rate fee paid by the bank. This will take affect if and when Windsor takes ownership.
“Everything has to work together” Representative Tommy Reynolds said about the ongoing project.
Reynolds said that meetings with the Oakland/Yalobusha Natural Gas District and Windsor have been very productive.
“It certainly is a good thing that the site has gas accessibility,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds said that while the company can purchase natural gas from whomever they wish, the local gas district will serve as the transporting utility.
“It will also help the district,” Reynolds said.
Currently more than 200 residential customers are served in the gas district.
Another plus for the area is a $2 million-plus investment made by Tennessee Valley Electric Power Association (TVEPA) on a substation that serves the area.
TVEPA general manager Brad Robison said that the substation provides a reliable source of power necessary for an industry like Windsor.
Robison said his company had met with Windsor on many occassions and worked through numerous issues to satisfy the company’s electrical needs
“Because of the investment we made, it has helped in this process,” Robison reported.
State And County Funds
Crow said Tuesday that the state is expected to kick in $650,000 for a Community Development Block Grant CDGB to make improvements to the facility. The grant will be appropriated through Yalobusha County, which is also expected to kick in $70,000 according to Crow. Supervisors reported that much of the $70,000 matching funds will come through in-kind work instead of actual dollars that the county will provide at the site.
The county will have until the end of the year to make the improvements.
The CDBG grant will be used to make improvements at the site. The upgrades will include paving access roads, increased parking, an upgrade to the wastewater treatment center, and painting the water tower, according to Crow.
Crow reported to supervisors that the state is expected to throw in funds for relocation expenses for the company and money for job training.
Board Table Footwork
“This board has made some good business decisions” Beat Three Supervisor M.H. “Butch” Surrette said Tuesday at the recessed meeting. “We protected the county and made good, common sense decisions.”
Beat One Supervisor Tommy Vaughn agreed.
“When you get down to final negotiations and had to say no, it was tough,” Vaughn explained as each entity jockeyed for the best deal.