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Business commitment nets road grant for Heflin industrial park

Rainbow Heflin

A rainbow is visible Tuesday evening at the 205 exit of Interstate I-20 at the Love's Travel Stop in Heflin. Locals might well wonder if the natural phenomenon represents the pot of gold that could come with the commencement of construction activity at the city's long-dormant industrial park. 

HEFLIN After sitting vacant near Interstate exit 205 since 2005, Heflin’s 212-acre industrial park is about to get its first tenant.

During a work session Tuesday night, Heflin Mayor Robby Brown announced that the city had been awarded an Alabama Department of Transportation industrial access grant in the amount of $1,059,000 to build an access road in the city’s industrial park.

In order to be eligible for the grant the city had to have a commitment from a business first.  

“We've got our first business who is committed, which is Barbaras; there will be 30 jobs, a 60,000-square foot building. We’re excited,” said the mayor.

Barbaras is a California-based textile company, according to Heflin’s economic developer Tammy Perry.

Brown said the grant was awarded on Tuesday in Montgomery at the Alabama Industrial Access Road & Bridge board meeting that he attended along with Perry, State Rep. Ginny Shaver, R-Leesburg, and others. 

Brown said that Shaver and State Sen. Randy Price, R-Opelika, were instrumental in getting the grant pushed through. 

The city has been looking for a tenant for the industrial park but without an access road to the park no business has come forth until now.

Heflin and Cleburne County bought the land jointly in 2005 with the intent of attracting high-paying industrial businesses to Heflin. City and county officials reached a funding agreement on a $2.5 million dollar bond issue to buy the property.

About $1 million of the bond was to be used for the purchase price and the remaining money was to pay for grading, water hookups and other infrastructure improvements. None of the money would cover the construction of an access road to the park. 

In 2005 then-Mayor Anna Berry said, “Our hope is when we have a prospect, we’ll be able to get grant money for the road.”

Brown said he has been aggressive since taking office last year to jump-start business recruitment for the industrial park.

“That’s the most exciting news that I’ve had in my tenure here, in a short time,” Brown said.

Brown said that he has other businesses interested in locating at the park and has letters of intent in his office.

According to Brown the industrial park has every utility, even high-speed internet, though not natural gas. 

“We’re going after anything and everything we can get for infrastructure to make this park one of the best in the state of Alabama,” Brown said.

When reached by phone Tuesday night Rep. Shaver said she tagged along with the mayor and Perry to help answer any questions that might have come up during the meeting. 

 Shaver said the future is wide open for the industrial park.

“One project breeds another and that’s been kick-started, we’re looking forward to great things and I mean big things,” Shaver said. 

In a story about the industrial park in 2019 Heflin Councilman Clint “Shag” Austin said there was “Nothing out there but hills and hollers and there’s some bobcats out there too. I saw one the other day.”

On Tuesday night Austin said the bobcat is still out there, for he had spotted him there last week.

“The bobcat is fixing to have to find a new home,” the mayor observed.

During departmental reports Perry said the annual Rockin Choccolocco 50K and Half Marathon is this weekend and the participants will be camping at Cahulga Park on Friday night. The 50K will start and finish at Cahulga Park and the turnaround point will be at Pine Glen on the Pinhoti Trail.  City officials will man an aid station Saturday morning during the race at Forest Road 500 where the Pinhoti intersects with the Heflin Spur Trail. 

For more information, click http://www.pinhotitrailseries.com/

​Staff writer Bill Wilson: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @bwilson_star.