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Concordia officials begin to walk in step on shoe company

FERRIDAY — The shoe appears to finally fit for Concordia Parish officials and representatives of a Memphis-based company interested in bringing their business to Ferriday.

Two representatives of Neimaj Footwear and Apparel met Monday evening in Natchez with Ferriday Mayor Gene Allen, town attorney Myisha Davis, special projects manager James Skipper and Concordia Parish Economic Development District Director Heather Malone to discuss the company’s plans to utilize the former Kelly’s Kids building to house its distribution warehouse and research and development center.

The meeting, Malone said, was intended to get all parties involved working together in order to move the project forward.

“We’ve all gotten on the same page now, and I think that was something that needed to happen to continue moving forward,” Malone said. “Essentially, we’re picking up where the previous administration left off, but this meeting was essential for that to happen.

“There weren’t any major changes or plans discussed, but it was still an essential meeting.”

Allen said Tuesday that he would not discuss specifics from the meeting because it was a private meeting, but did say the matter would be moving along soon.

“The meeting went well,” Allen said. “They’ll be on the table for a public meeting soon.”

The company, which specializes in the design and production of eco-friendly custom and traditional athletic footwear, had originally entered into an agreement with the previous Ferriday administration to take over the building on Louisiana 15.

The agreement was a five-year lease for the building and included a clause requiring the company to bring at least 50 jobs to the area.

Miscommunications between Malone and Allen left the project standing still for several weeks until the matter was brought up at a September board of aldermen meeting.

After those initial miscommunications were clarified and several documents were delivered to Allen, the project began to move forward again.

Malone said a lease including some slight modifications made by the company is now in the hands of the Ferriday town attorney and will need to be sent back to the company before any other steps are accomplished.

“We talked about a loose time frame with the company, but we really don’t know how long the negotiations of the lease are going to take,” Malone said. “Until that’s done, I don’t think they’re prepared to put out any date yet.”

Once the lease is signed, Malone said the company will also be able to take advantage of a $125,000 grant from the Delta Regional Authority that, along with the company’s matching funds, will be used to help renovate the building.

The company’s plans also include expansion into a full manufacturing facility which would utilize the future Vidalia port and other industrial parks in Concordia Parish to produce its footwear products.