Brundidge council approves railroad spur

Published 9:07 pm Tuesday, April 5, 2011

If funding can be secured via state and local grants, Southern Classic Food Group soon will be using rail to ship most of its products.

The Brundidge council on Tuesday approved a resolution to provide funds for the building of a railroad spur which will allow Southern Classic Food Group LLC to unload goods transported by railroad cars.

Chuck Caraway, owner of Southern Classic, said the spur would be a switch off the main line and will allow his employees to unload the cars into a storage facility running parallel to the main line.

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“Currently, we have everything brought in by trucks,” Caraway said. “We use a significant quantity of soybean oil and corn sweeteners and I’d like to start bringing those in by rail.”

Caraway said t having the products brought in via train is slightly cheaper, but that the main perk is that it is less work.

“It’s less hassle unloading 200,000 pounds at a time by train versus 50,000 pounds by truck,” Caraway said. “So, there’s a little savings on the cost of it and there’s a little savings on the operation of unloading the cars.”

According to Britt Thomas, Brundidge city ,anager, funding for the railroad spur will come from grant money through the Alabama Department of Economic Community Affairs and from the City of Brundidge.

“This local industry has a need for a different mode of accepting their goods,” Thomas said. To assist, he said the city will “submit an application to the state of Alabama for $500,000, which would construct the rail spur, pay for the engineering, and all the administration. We’re asking the state for $250,000 of that and then the city would be required, up front initially, to match that $250,000 with $250,000 of its own money.”

Thomas said the business plan would be to turn around and lease Caraway the spur, provided an acceptable agreement was reached for reimbursement of the city’s investment.

“The state has a number of grant programs approved for community development, and this is the Community Development Block Grant from the Economic Development Fund,” Thomas said.

“It’s strictly a fund that’s set aside for when industries like Mr. Caraway’s are creating additional jobs. It is to assist in ‘getting there.’”

Thomas said the Caraway’s business will create an additional 37 jobs in Brundidge and the money from the grant will be a substantial investment into Caraway’s business.