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Duke Energy looks to buy land in Madison

On Wednesday, Oct. 28 at 8:30 a.m., McCallum Sweeney Consulting and Duke Energy met in the Madison County Extension Office to present the Duke Energy Site Readiness program's Final Presentation on 155-acres located in Madison County. After a warm welcome and opening from Chairman of the Madison County Development Council William Washington, the Director of Duke Energy, Marc Hoenstine gave a brief background on the Duke Energy Site Evaluation Selection and introduced Senior Consultant and director of site readiness programs for McCallum Sweeney Lindsey Meyers. “We are a site selection firm that helps companies decide where to locate new facilities,” said Meyers. There are three sectors that McCallum Sweeney covers: manufacturing, distribution and corporate headquarters. By examining several factors such as site preparation, utility infrastructure, transportation, demographics, education, taxes and quality of life, McCallum Sweeney provides a solid framework for a location decision that is ready and risk-free. Meyers presented an extensive presentation on the different factors handled when going through the selection readiness process and then introduced McCallum Sweeney Consultant Kyle Neu. “The goal of my presentation is to help prioritize the steps moving forward to make the property more ready and more marketable,” said Neu. “We've done 189 properties and this is the sixth one in Florida.” Neu began to present the strengths and weaknesses with the Madison Site Evaluation for the “Greene property.” For each weakness of the site, there was a recommendation attached to provide suggestions for improvement to reduce the site's risk and readiness.

The property consists of State Road 53 and County Road 14, with the CSX rail line north of the intersection and Greene Publishing, Inc. located northeast of the property. In the Southern portion of the property lies the Forestry Department. First, Neu covered the technical evaluation of the property. “For the technical evaluation, what we do is evaluate the property based on mock criteria that comes from our siting experience,” said Neu. By looking at several factors within the site, transportation and utilities of the property, it is able to be evaluated. While examining the site, McCallum Sweeney look at the topography, due diligence, zoning and other factors that play in. When examining transportation, a snapshot of the property is looked over for access of road, railroads, airports and distance to ports. When examining the utilities of the site, the availability of utilities, including electricity, natural gas, water, wastewater and telecommunications are looked over, along with when the utilities can be used. “We really look at the schedule where we can get service by,” said Neu. “We really want to get the facility up and running as quick as possible.” The property is a total of 154.14 acres with 80 development acres and owned by one family with a 30-month option for the property. However, the property does have some qualities that are perceived as weaknesses. The property is zoned as residential, adding to the complexity of the sale. By beginning the rezoning process within 60-90 days, solutions can be reached in order to make it fit for industrial development. Because the property is approximately 15 acres of flood zoning and 20 acres of wetlands on-site, it is recommended that the property go through Phase I ESA wetlands study and due diligence study.

Transportation-wise, the property fairs well, lying across from State Road 53, just two miles from Highway 90 and four miles from I-10. A CSX mainline also runs along the northern boundary; however, major airports are a bit of a distance from the property, with the Valdosta airport 30 miles away and the Tallahassee airport 66 miles away. Neu also reported the educational logistics within the county compared to the average state percentage. A total of 78.2 percent of the population has their high school diploma, compared to the state of Florida's 86.1 percent. Only 9.7 percent of the population holds their bachelor's degree compared to the state's 26.4 percent. The job growth has also fallen lower within the last three years. “In terms of market, you really want to be able to address any other clients and say, 'we know these statistics aren't great but we're working on it and working to expel any problems you may have,'” said Neu. To conclude his presentation, Neu went over the start-up schedule for the property. “[The schedule] is fantastic,” said Neu. “[The property] has all strengths for utilities.” Electric, gas, water, wastewater and telecommunications can all be provided for the end user of the property within six months. It will cost approximately $75,000 for gas, $50,000 for water and $100,000 for wastewater.

Electricity will be covered through revenue credit; however, telecommunications did not have a cost estimate. “An issue to address here is that we do not have an estimated cost to provide telecommunications service for the property,” said Neu. “This is seen a lot for telecommunications.” The property was recommended for use by Light Industrial/Assembly, Logistics, Distribution and Plastics based on the property's strengths and weaknesses. Neu turned the presentation over to Kent Ward of HRP to go over the HRP site conceptual design. Ward informed the public on the different environmental factors that play in with the site selection process, including wetland locations, flood zones, topography, setbacks, soil types, archeological factors and endangered species. “The takeaway is that [the property] is very flexible,” said Ward after finishing his presentation. “It's got a lot of land that can be built on. In terms of the types of land and buildings that you have available to you, it's definitely do-able in terms of the property.” As for future plans, the property will be turned over to the county. “It's [the county's] baby now,” said Meyers. Economic Development Consultant of Madison Crawford Powell announced that after reviewing and assessment, the county will co-market the property with Duke Energy and McCallum and Sweeney in order to push the project through. “[This project] is cost-driven as of right now,” said Powell. “By doing all of [the recommendations], this reduces the risk for the property client.” “This is good for Madison,” said County Commissioner Ronnie Moore. “For years, we've been needing more economic development. We're in the right direction.” Moore also extended an invitation for new businesses to start developing in Madison.

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1. Photo Submitted. Staff members of McCallum Sweeney and Duke Energy met Wednesday, Oct. 28 at 8:30 a.m. to present the final presentation for the 155-acre Greene Property in Madison County. Pictured, from left to right, are: Danny Collins of Duke Energy, Marc Hoenstine, Director of Economic Development for Duke Energy; Crawford Powell, Economic Development Consultant of Madison County; Allen Cherry, County Coordinator of Madison County; Lindsey Meyers, Senior Consultant of McCallum Sweeney; Billy Washington, Chairman of Madison County Development Council; Danielle Ruiz of Duke Energy, Kent Ward, Regional Manager of HRP Engineering; Kyle Neu, Consultant of McCallum Sweeney and Emerald Greene Parsons, owner of the “Greene property.”

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