Troy considering bringing a whisky distillery to the city
A multi-million dollar whisky distillery could be coming to Troy if the City Council approves a project agreement between the two entities Tuesday.
The city filed a 772 notice Tuesday to alert the public that it was working on the project, with incentives of over $3 million over the next 10 years.
“The plan is for them to create an area like many of the distilleries in Kentucky and Tennessee,” said Mayor Jason Reeves. “Most everybody knows about those places. If this comes to fruition, the initial phase of capital development would be $13,560,000 and moving up toward $20 million range.”
Reeves said the city would purchase a $1.6 million, 76-acre property for Conecuh Ridge Distillery if the council approves the project agreement. Another $1.2 million road project to create a public access road would likely be funded by the state, Reeves said.
“The only initial investment from the city would be the property,” Reeves said. “The additional money would be over time and would be based on job creation and utility usage.”
Reeves said the distillery isn’t just a potential boost to the economy because it would provide jobs, of which he said the company would employ 30 to 50 initially with an average annual salary of $54,000, but it would also be a tourism attraction that would bring in money from the outside.
“The hope is that it will draw people in and off of U.S. Highway 231 to visit not only the distillery, but also downtown, the university and different aspects of the community,” Reeves said. “The hope is that it will attract visitors.”
Other incentives listed in the notice include incentive payments of up to $100,000 per year for up to five years, up to $26,000 worth of billboard advertising per year, up to $50,000 on an advertisement that could be placed on a City water tower, utilities usage-based payments of up to $5,000 per year for up to 10 years and “provide other things of value.”
Reeves explained what some of those incentives mean from the city.
“Most of the estimates are conservative, which means they’re on the high side,” Reeves said. “You want to overestimate the cost to give the public an idea of the upper limit.”
Reeves also said there would be a year limit on how long the city would assist the distillery with advertising, but that the exact limit has not yet been worked out.
Reeves said that the advertisement that could be placed on a City water tower will not be on the historic downtown tower or the tower visible from U.S. Highway 231.
“There is a water tower that is adjacent to the site that is only visible from the site,” Reeves said. “That is what that request is related to and it is something that has not yet been decided and it’s unknown whether it will be in the final draft. But it will not be one of those two water towers.”
Reeves said he couldn’t yet disclose the location of the property, but said Conecuh Ridge looked at several locations before selecting this particular piece of land. A map of the location should be available later today according to City Clerk Alton Starling.
The nature of the project agreement falls under amendment 772 of the Alabama Constitution, now codified as Section 94.01 of the Alabama Code of Law.
Laurie Lein, an attorney with the Alabama League of Municipalities, explained the amendment’s purpose.
“Section 94 is a provision that basically says cities and counties can’t use public funds for private benefit,” Lein said. “Amendment 772 says that public can be used under limited circumstances for economic industrial development if you follow certain guidelines.”
The council will consider the agreement at the meeting Tuesday, but council president Marcus Paramore said the council can table it if they feel they need more time.
“If the will of the council is to make a motion to approve the notice, we’ll move forward,” Paramore said. “If not, we’ll postpone it or move in another direction.”
The council will meet for an executive meeting upstairs at City Hall at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 12. The regular meeting will be held at 5 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.
Reeves: The plan is for them to create an area like many of the distilleries in Kentucky and Tennessee. Most everybody knows about those places. If this comes to fruition the initial phase of Capital development. $13,560,000 moving up toward $20 million range basically the tourist attraction aspect of it. Building the facility equipment all of those things. Well the state has signed some incentives. We are the $1.2 million is roadwork that we anticipate the state paying for. The only initial investment from the city would be the property. The additional money would be over time and based on job creation and utility usage. It would absolutely have a cap on it that’s currently being negotiated based on probably a three-year commitment. This is a fluid situation. The company was shown different locations and selected a location but that’s not been finally executed. We advertised this 772 so we an consider taking action on Tuesday and most of the estimates in the 772 notice are conservative, they’re on the high side you want to overestimate the cost to give the public an idea of the cost. There is a water tower that is adjacent to the site that is only visible from the site is what that request is related to and that is something that has not yet been decided and it’s unknown whether that will be in the final draft. Not one of those two water towers. Certainly, as it always is. I would say initially 30 to 50 jobs and long-term there’s a plan for many more. The average salary commitment is $54,000 a year. We don’t dictate that. We will provide water electric and sewer to the site. Well you know the hope is that it will draw people in and off of the 231 highway to visit the community and not only the distillery but to visit downtown, the university and different aspects of the community the hope is that it will attract visitors. I think there may be one other small distillery in Alabama but nothing on this scale in Alabama again this is a $13+ million initial investment moving toward $20 million so that’s a very large scope. Harbert investment was about $11 million. If they choose not to make a decision at this meeting or it appears we won’t come to terms before next meeting we would continue to advertise ahead of a meeting. At some point the council will choose to move forward or not. That’s exactly why we put it in the paper as a notice but the ting is on these economic development projects these announcements are made and these things happen processes are confidential until it gets to be time to make a decision. At that point in time, until the company allows for any publishment of their name, these are confidential. This project was project Clearwater. Many times these are very long processes many communities that were involved in this process.
Paramore: Public hearing distillery. It’s not an issue of incentivizing any company we think will bring good company high-paying jobs. I think right now their initial startup is 50 jobs and I don’t know the exact figures on salary ranges. I think the end cap on advertising is still being negotiated. I think the water tower unspecified at the moment. I personally feel like the majority of the jobs of this particular outfit will be local. There’s probably a master distiller that probably come in from elsewhere but its; my understanding vast overwhelming majority of jobs will be all local. A few administrative jobs just like any other company. They’ve got their top administrative people. It’s about the jobs and about a tourism aspect that this company wants to develop that will bring outside people into our community and expand the tax base. Not just a processing plant, there’s a tourism factor involved in this. The council could take action. I think the will of the council that evening haven’t specifically asked each council member I think we’ll present it and if the will of the council is to make a motion to approve the notice we’ll move forward or postpone or move in another direction.
Attn. Laurie Lein, ALM: Amendment 772– Because we’re private. The purpose of 772. Codified as section 94.01 of the code. Provision that basically says cities and counties can’t use public funds for private benefit. Under limited circumstances for economic development and industrial development if you follow these steps if you assist with private enterprise. Can provide general information. 94.01 advertising requirements. They can’t do this unless the following are satisfied public meeting, has to have a resolution for sufficient and valid public purpose 7 days prior have to publish describing in reasonable detail. Public benefits sought to be achieved by the action.
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