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CCDA, GVACC update Valley council

VALLEY — The executive directors of the Chambers County Development Authority (CCDA) and the Greater Valley Area Chamber of Commerce (GVACC) were at the Monday meeting of the Valley City Council to give updates to the council about what’s been going on with their organizations over the first half of 2020.

CCDA Director Valerie Gray noted a broad range of progress that is underway in Valley, including the development of the city-owned Burney property (across from Zaxby’s on Fob James Drive), the clearing of the Combs property off Fairfax Bypass, the work that’s been going on at the John Soules Foods site, and the Fairfax Mill and Langdale Mill sites.

The master plan for the Burney site is geared toward either commercial or industrial development. A residential development is planned for one side of Combs Road. At build-out, there will likely be several hundred new homes there. It’s possible for a new commercial development to be located on the opposite side of the road.

Valley Mayor Leonard Riley has said he’d like to see the new homes priced in a medium price range, neither on the high end or low end and affordable for middle-class families.

The Valley location of John Soules Foods will be in the former West Point Home distribution center off Towel Avenue. A great deal of conversion work has been going on inside the 266,000-square-foot building. Three new buildings have been going up behind the building. Much of the work is being done by local contractors.

The city owns the site where Fairfax Mill once stood and is in the process of cleaning up the site. Early Fairfax was known for its village green. It’s the city’s goal to return the site to that kind of green space.

Much of Langdale Mill has been demolished with debris being removed from the site. A portion of the historic structure still stands, and potential investors have been contacted to gauge their interest in repurposing the site to a new use.

Gray commended work is being done on the opposite side of I-85 in Lanett, where an airport expansion project is underway and redevelopment is continuing on the Lanett Mill site. The Lanett airport will have a 5,400-foot-long runway and a 5,400-square-foot terminal when work is complete within the next year. The new runway will be one of the longest in east Alabama, capable of landing corporate jets.

It’s possible for the new airport to be a backup site for Auburn University. The new terminal will have a large front lobby, a pilot’s lounge, a flight planning room and offices for the city and CCDA.

Recent improvements at the Huguley Industrial Park includes new signage on Phillips Road. A traffic signal arm has been replaced, and the City of Lanett has installed lighted signs at the entrance to the park.

At the Chambers County Industrial Park at Exit 70 on I-85, a 189-acre site on the west side of the park has been optioned, and marketing signs off the interstate have been updated.

At the LaFayette Industrial Park, Environmental Recycling Solutions of Opelika has opened a branch office. The CCDA, city and Kardoes Rubber have been working together to get a new tenant in the now vacant Kardoes building.

Gray said the CCDA had been working with the City of Valley on some web site upgrades. She said that the county and its three major cities would have significantly improved websites in the near future.

Gray added that the CCDA has resources to help local small businesses, citing “Shop Where I Live – Chambers County” as an example. She credited Kimberly Carter of the CCDA staff on having located an Iowa company that tailors this service for small businesses in small communities.

“For the first year, local businesses can access it at no cost,” she said. “We like to look at it as a mini-Amazon. Local business owners can learn how to buy and sell online. It will show you how to do it.”

The CCDA is continuing to build on its branding initiative. The Career Technical Center and Legacy Acres are the latest entities to have their own Strength Woven In logos.

In the last year, the CCDA staff has invested more than 170 hours working with local businesses.

GVACC Director Carie Royster said that her office had placed “Shop Local” banners in West Point, Lanett, Valley and LaFayette. Since COVID-19 hit in March, the chamber has treated local first responders, the 911 staff and employees at EAMC-Lanier Hospital to free lunches. “We treated our local first responders to free pizza last week at Johnny’s,” she said.

Royster reported that the Chamber’s Junior Ambassador program is continuing to grow in popularity with the students.

“For the past two years, we’ve had 44 Junior Ambassadors,” she said. “Next year, we will have 52.”

On Friday, July 24, the chamber will be hosting a back-to-school tailgate event outside its Valley office from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Local high school football coaches and some of their players and cheerleaders will be there to meet the fans.

This year’s annual chamber dinner will be taking place at Valley Community Center from 5 to 7 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Sept. 17.

Organizers say the big gym inside the Community Center will offer ample room for social distancing.