TIFTON -- Citing a need for more industrial land, the Tift County Development Authority voted Tuesday to issue bonds to buy land for industrial development, acquire land for an office park and possibly build an office building.

In a second vote, the authority also approved the hiring of a consultant to facilitate the bond issue and determine how much money it could reasonably raise.

"We've been in a transition period with some various projects that we want to see come to pass, and we're looking at some real estate that we think will enhance these possibilities," said Chairman Buddy Bryan.

"Serving in the chamber, we've come to realize that we're just not as land-rich as we thought we were," Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce Director and Abraham Baldwin College President Mike Vollmer said. "We're almost out of land at this point."

Chamber President James Chavez said companies looking for a location often don't have time to acquire land and build, especially if other communities are offering a ready-made venue. "We have a 40-plus year history of recruitment, and we've just exhausted our current land resources," he said.

"We have 40 acres in the smaller park (on Union Road), but we're at the point where we need larger tracts and we just don't have them."

Chavez said the development authority and chamber have spent three years trying to develop an office park and can't go any further without acquiring land for the project. The purchase of office park land would be in addition to the industrial property.

"We have people that come in here looking for from 5,000 to 10,000 square feet of office space, and if you don't have it, they're not going to come," he added. "They look at available buildings first and then look at building their own, and with Albany and Valdosta as our two primary competitors, they usually have something available."

Chavez said consultants were successfully used in a recent bond issue to fund construction of privatized student housing at ABAC as well as with the bond issue that financed an addition to Tift Regional Medical Center.

The authority expects to start meeting with consultants immediately, Chavez said.



To contact city editor Florence Rankin, call 382-4321, ext. 209.

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