The Jackson County Industrial Development Authority plans to pay for a study to engineer potential upgrades to the Hwy. 98 and I-85 interchange area for future industrial development.
IDA chairman Scott Martin proposed having the study done at the IDA's meeting on Oct. 16, saying the area currently doesn't have the necessary road infrastructure in place should a large industrial project decide to locate there. Much of the property around the interchange is slated for future industrial development.
"Our infrastructure, what we have right now, just wouldn't work for it (development)," Martin said.
County manager Kevin Poe said the study would require working with a number of groups. The estimated cost of the study would be around $30,000 Martin said.
John Scott, Jackson County director of economic development, told the IDA that a ruling from the International Trade Commission on a dispute between SK Battery and a competitor over trade secrets is expected on Oct. 26. That ruling could impact SK's plans at its massive Commerce facility.
Scott also said that recent issues about contractors at that site using foreign workers illegally should "not be an issue going forward" after SK set up a new system to check contractors' employees' visa status. There are around 1,200 to 1,500 workers doing construction at the site.
SK has directly hired around 90 people in management positions for the project and around 20-40 of those are working at the site now.
In other business at the IDA's meeting, the board:
• voted to agree to a memorandum of understanding with Toyota in Jefferson to resolve a problem of the county having applied the wrong tax levy between 2016 and 2018. The county had over-billed Toyota due to confusion over how its taxes were to be phased in.
• heard Scott report that interest in industrial development projects in the county are "at an all time high" with several new projects exploring the county currently.
• heard Scott report that some employers are struggling to get workers for their businesses in the county due to the area's low unemployment rate.
• discussed traffic problems at the intersection of Hwy. 441 and Steve Reynolds Blvd. in Commerce.