County Chooses Engineering Firm For CDBG Project

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By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
After listening to presentations and evaluating two firms, the County Commission chose David H. Melvin, Inc., for consulting services, grant administration and engineering services for a proposed CDBG economic development project off SR 53 South near the interstate. The project will include site preparation for a business that is interested in locating there, along with others that may wish to co-locate alongside it in the future. Addressing the commissioners, Melvin said that since he began his business in 1989, he has worked on projects for Lee, Greenville and the City of Madison. He has worked with Jimmy Davis and Will Rutherford on a number of projects as well. When it comes to economic development, Melvin stated that his firm had been recognized nationally and won several awards in that area; as for grant writing, the firm has written many number one grants over the years, setting the record about eight years ago for a $1.4 million grant to bring the Family Dollar Distribution Center and about 550 jobs to Marianna, Florida. For that, he was able to combine two $750,000 CDBG grants, one for the city of Marianna and the other for Jackson County, because the mammoth project straddled the city limits and extended into the county. The fact that it was bringing in 550 jobs also got the state’s attention, allowing him to do the two grants for one project. “I’m pretty confident that we’ve done more CBDG grants than any other firm,” he said. “They give out only five grants a year, and we usually write four of them.” Besides CDBG, Melvin’s firm has also worked with EDA and DOT grants. Susan Emrich, also with the firm, called the distribution center “an engineering and coordination miracle,” because of the sheer amount of work and number of elements that had to be brought together in a coherent and orderly fashion to turn vacant fields into a site ready-to-go for an industrial/commercial center, including a massive French drain system, underground utilities that required boring underneath I-10, gas lines, an elevated water tower, and many other elements, all within a tight time frame. “Big companies want to move fast,” she said, and Madison was already ahead of the curve with some utilities already at the site. But just like Jackson County had come together, “Madison comes together, too, and you make it happen.” she said. “You’re perfectly poised to take off.” The firm will present a contract for consideration at the next county commission meeting.

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