ADECA director visits Lanett, talks potential grant funding

Published 8:00 am Friday, June 7, 2024

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The city of Lanett got a visit from Director Kenneth Boswell and Deputy Director Ashley Toole of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) on May 30. The ADECA representatives met with Mayor Jamie Heard and other community leaders to discuss community needs and grant programs.

Heard gave the ADECA representatives a tour, pointing out the city’s major needs for continued growth. According to a press release from the mayor’s office, Heard wanted Boswell “to see firsthand the needs of Lanett.”

ADECA works with the community to stimulate economic development through partnerships and grant programs.

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Boswell then encouraged Heard to apply for a master plan grant. The grant will jumpstart the process on funding projects and identify additional grants that would be needed to make improvements for Lanett.

Heard said that he plans to apply before the deadline for the master plan grant which is July.

Lanett has seen some economic development in recent years with projects like the Lanett Municipal Airport. Heard and Chambers County Development Authority Executive Director Chris Busby met with the ADECA leaders to discuss resources that the city can use to create even more growth opportunities.

One project for which the city hopes to receive funding from ADECA is an EV charging station for school buses. The Lanett City Schools Transportation Director, Clifford Story, recently applied for the Clean School Bus initiative, which is a federal grant.

According to Heard, the city is looking to pursue grants for water/sewer, recreation needs, and low-income home energy upgrades to help the citizens.

At another stop of the tour, Busby illustrated the need for utilities mapping and development specifically at the old Lanett mill site on Hwy 29.

“Because it is an old site — there’s an old mill there — are their funds out there to help us with mapping, help us with improving infrastructure there?” Busby said. “So that when the prospects come in, we’re ready.”

The group then visited the city’s community center and spoke with the center’s director about possible funding for recreation.

Later, Busby said, he explained the need for the development of utilities and infrastructure citywide. The CCDA director added that starting with foundational elements like infrastructure, waterline and sewer line capacity helps to keep potential projects from being delayed or derailed.

“Infrastructure is super critical and we need to have things ready for development,” Bubsy said.

“Because just those little issues can totally derail a project,” Busby added. “… And we want to make sure that when the time comes, we’re ready with no questions that we can just say ‘this is perfect for you. It’s ready. Everything’s in place. There’s no barriers.’”