Lee County- Southern Lee County is the fastest growing area of metro Albany. Its success is due in large part to its proximity to Southwest Georgia's industrial hub, Albany. Now Lee and Dougherty County leaders are taking advantage of each other's best qualities to develop a joint industrial park. That's big news for two counties that some people perceive as being competitive, rather than working together.
Brad Lofton is Lee County's Chamber of Commerce Director. Tim Martin holds the same seat in Albany. Besides this common feature, the men share something else: a united vision for Lee and Dougherty Counties.
"Our folks go to church together, they work together, they recreate together, so this is another opportunity to be involved in a project that brings them together for a common goal," Martin said.
The common goal is a joint industrial park. Dougherty County has three already. In Lee County, the ground hasn't even been broken at their first industrial park off Highway 82. "There's lots of rhetoric about us working together but finally we are sitting at the table and putting our money where our mouth is and its time for it to happen," Lofton said.
For the last year, both men have been discussing the logistics of a joint park. They don't know where it will be, but Lee County does have one advantage-- lots of wide open spaces. "We've been the recipient of their growth and success. We owe a lot of growth to Dougherty County, we are grateful to be in a position to have an abundance of land."
That abundance of land has been the reason why some businesses, like Chem-Nut, have moved out of Dougherty into Lee County. The possibility of a joint industrial park with joint revenue sharing is appealing to both men.
"The benefits are numerous. Some are direct and can be quantified in dollars and cents, but there's the benefit of working together, being in a partnership with neighbors," said Martin.
Joint industrial parks are a growing trend in metro Atlanta. In the last two years, new state laws have been created to allow for tax sharing with industrial parks.
There is no set date for the industrial park's completion and no decisions have been finalized on tax sharing.