Jefferson County's bankruptcy and burden of future sewer bills may rest on how much business can be lured to the county.
In the 1990's, Jefferson County invested $20 million in the Jefferson County Economic Industrial Development Authority so that two industrial parks could be built. The largest one is in McCalla and the other is off Lakeshore. The parks have brought in 16 companies, more than 4,000 jobs and tax revenue for the county.
"The county has received a little less than $83 million in direct and indirect tax revenue to the county," Ted Von Cannon, Executive Director with the JCEDA said.
Von Cannon told Jefferson County Commissioners that additional property will be needed to bring future companies to the county, especially in the northern and eastern sections of the county.
"We can compete if we have the product. The other issue is we have to acquire the product. With limited products that makes it more and more of a challenge," Von Cannon said.
As a part of Jefferson County's plan to exit bankruptcy, the county will be counting on growing the area by bringing additional businesses and jobs. This is critical to the county's efforts to pay off the multi-billion dollar sewer debt. Without new businesses, the burden will fall on existing sewer customers to pay off the debt.
"We get a multiplier effect as we grow non-residential. It lessens the stress on residential," David Carrington, President of the Jefferson County Commission, said.
Jefferson County Commissioners say next to opening a county jail in Bessemer this is a top priority, buying more land to bring in more companies to bring in more jobs. They see it as critical for the county's future.
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