Reilly: Vidalia on the move

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 10, 1999

VIDALIA, La. – Two planned industrial projects show that Vidalia’s economic future is looking brighter, a Louisiana economic development official told the Vidalia Chamber of Commerce Tuesday.

Fruit of the Loom plans to add $2 million worth of equipment to its Vidalia Apparel plant in the near future, said Kevin Reilly, secretary of economic development, who toured the plant Tuesday morning.

The computers will help the plant keep better track of every piece of apparel that comes through the distribution center, Reilly said.

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&uot;They also plan to eventually have 600 employees,&uot;&160;he said, speaking at the chamber’s monthly meeting. &uot;This investment in computers … shows they mean business and are going to stay around.&uot;

Also, the town plans to build a loading and unloading facility near the Mississippi River, primarily to serve its industrial park. Mayor Hyram Copeland should soon receive the results of a feasibility study on the facility. Once funding is secured for the facility, the project should take less than one year to complete.

&uot;I&160;plan to make this facility my first priority for this area,&uot;&160;Reilly said. &uot;I&160;feel that getting the funding … is something we could do in the (Legislature’s) next session.&uot;

The total project could cost up to $7 million, and more than $3 million would probably be needed just to start construction. Funds could come from many sources, such as grants, bond issues, state capital outlay funds, town funds or donations from businesses.

Reilly acknowledged that high unemployment and illiteracy must be overcome before northeast Louisiana can enjoy greater prosperity.

During the meeting, chamber Director Linda Gardner also briefed members on this year’s Jim Bowie Festival. A chamber committee is meeting every week to plan the event, which will be held Sept. 18, Gardner said.