The Gadsden Times
Heading into the Little Canoe Creek Mega-Site from either direction, there's a bit of a drive before anyone can see what's going on at the certified AdvantageSite for potential industrial development.
From the Little Canoe Creek side, there's a drive through the woods before the wide expanse that's been cleared is visible, as heavy equipment lumbers on the site in ongoing work to make the property as ready as possible for whatever industry might locate there.
Before the work began, Etowah County Economic Development Director Marilyn Lott said, all the property looked like the woods that lead into it.
This conceptual rendering shows where the Little Canoe Creek Industrial Mega-Site is located, and the railroad line and roadways that give access to the site. The site is a 1,000-plus acre plot the Etowah County Commission bought over the past several years, with a plan to create one of the largest sites available in the state for industrial development.
Lott clearly sees some beauty beyond the backhoe work going on. She said she believes anyone with a vision for development will look at the land — when it's better cleared and made more level — with the mountain in the background, and they'll see the potential in the property.
Lott toured the property last week with members of the County Commission and staffers, pointing out for them where construction of a pad is planned, and other features on the property.
Crews worked previously to relocate gas lines at the Little Canoe Creek Mega-Site. The site has three options for gas service at the site. There is a lot to recommend the site to potential industry: the amount of acreage; it has Norfolk Southern rail onsite; it is adjacent to Interstate 59; it has one owner — Etowah County; it's served by Alabama Power; it has 1.4 million-plus gallons per day of excess water capacity; it is AT&T fiber and copper adjacent; and it has three options for natural gas service — Boaz Gas Board with 4- and 8-inch lines onsite; Spire, with 4- and 6-inch lines adjacent; and Southern Natural Gas, with 10- and 12-inch transmission lines 1.25 miles away.
Work continues to clear and flatten the land at the Mega-Site. County leaders are working, Lott said, to give the site even more of an advantage.
She said every dollar the county spends clearing and leveling the land, building a pad and preparing infrastructure at the site is less that an industry will have spend to make the property ready.
That, she said, should give the county an edge when industries come looking for a place to locate.
Etowah Commissioners and other viewed the Little Canoe Creek Mega-Site last week from the access road onto the property, as work continues to prepare the site for industrial prospects. For now, industrial development is slow, Lott said — like virtually everything touched by the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems.
She said when it picks back up, she believes it will come back strong — that people [company's plans] have been pent up for some time and will have money to spent in development and will be ready to spend it.