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What to do with grant?

In an effort to attract more industries to Lafayette County, the Board of Supervisors and the Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation are looking at how a possible $500,000 grant could help improve the Lafayette County Max D. Hipp Industrial Park.

Oxford-Lafayette Chamber of Commerce and EDF chairman and CEO Jon Maynard met with the supervisors this morning to discuss what improvements he’d like to see happen if the county receives the grant through the Tennessee Valley Authority’s InvestPrep grant program.

The grant would be a 70-30 match. If the county were to receive the maximum amount, $500,000, the county would have to commit to matching it with $150,000.

The grant is awarded to communities for projects that help to bring business and industry to the county, which in turn, gives TVA more customers.

Maynard said he would like to see the majority of the grant, however much the county receives, go toward improving and extending the Industrial Park access road. He would like to see the road extended north to College Hill Switch, or County Road 104 to open up more lots inside the park for prospective industries.

“We’d like to three-lane it and add curb and gutters, as well as resurface the existing road,” Maynard said. “Make it a  safer, more robust road and more aesthetically pleasing.”

Maynard estimated the road to cost about $300,000 to $500,000.

Supervisor Jeff Busby said it would cost well over $500,000 to curb and gutter the entire road.

“Maybe just the first quarter mile could be done,” he said.

Maynard said he wants to shoot for the maximum amount of the grant and then see what the county is actually awarded and go from there.

“We can scale it back but having that road does give us a competitive edge,” he told the supervisors.

Maynard said he’d also like to use part of the grant to fund a workforce study and hire an outside company to conduct the survey for about $40,000. Maynard said once the initial study is done, the county could then update it once a year themselves.

“We need to know where we’re going,” Maynard said.

Maynard said he would come before the board at their March 21 meeting to ask for a letter of support and a commitment to fund up to the $150,000 if the county receives the maximum amount for the grant. The deadline to apply for the grant is March 22.

“I think we all support it but we need to get some numbers,” said Supervisor Kevin Frye.

County Engineer Larry Britt is out on medical leave. Maynard said he would contact someone in the city or a contractor to get a more precise estimate on what the improvements and addition to the road would cost.