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Second round of SEEDS grants becoming available for site development

Communities across Alabama will soon have an opportunity to apply for state grants that could help them develop industrial sites capable of competing for high-impact economic development projects — and the jobs that come with them.

The new Site Evaluation and Economic Development Strategy (SEEDS) Act has already been a success, with the first round of funding steering $30 million into critically needed site development activities across the state.

A second round of SEEDS funding, also potentially totaling $30 million, is available for communities that meet all the program’s criteria and are selected to receive grants from the State Industrial Development Authority (SIDA).

The application portal for SEEDS site assessment and site development grants opens on July 1 and closes on Sept. 30. The portal will be located on the website of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA), which is administering the program.

SIDA will evaluate the applications and announce results early next year.

Ellen McNair, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, urged community leaders and economic development officials across the state to consider taking advantage of SEEDS grant possibilities.

“Though the first round of SEEDS grants was announced just a few months ago, the program has already enhanced our competitiveness on the economic development playing field,” Secretary McNair said.

“In fact, the new industrial sites created through SEEDS funding are allowing us to compete for more than a dozen corporate growth projects involving a combined $13.5 billion in new capital investment and 5,000 jobs,” she added.

Immediate impact

The groundbreaking SEEDS program — a key portion of the Governor Kay Ivey’s “Game Plan” package of economic development bills approved by the Legislature last year — takes direct aim at the urgent need for quality industrial sites in Alabama at a time when other states are spending heavily to expand their site programs.

The $30 million in first-round SEEDS funding is being matched with $38.4 million in local funds at 29 different Alabama industrial sites encompassing nearly 8,400 acres. A large chunk of that funding is heading to sites in Alabama’s rural counties.

“Alabama has a need for more quality sites,” EDPA President Greg Barker said. “The number of available, publicly held sites in Alabama is down nearly 30% from our peak.

“Alabama has a proven record of economic development success when we are able to offer prepared sites for targeted businesses,” he added.

Leaders in Dothan are already capitalizing on the SEEDS program.

Recently, they received a $3.94 million check from SIDA to assist in the acquisition of the 446-Acre Westgate Supersite. The state SEEDS funding is paired with funding from the City of Dothan Commission and the Houston County Commission totaling $3.1 million to also assist with the acquisition.

“The city of Dothan has never been able to compete for very large economic development projects, but now with the Westgate Supersite, our community will be able to be considered for industrial projects that have the potential to facilitate significant economic investment in our community,” Dothan Mayor Mark Saliba said.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.

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