Project Blue almost ready to begin?

Published 1:01 am Thursday, June 14, 2018


VIDALIA — After more than a year of negotiations, the economic development initiative Project Blue could be cleared to start work in Vidalia by the end of the month, officials said.

The manufacturing company, for which town officials signed confidentiality agreements to keep its name a secret, is on schedule to sign its final documents on June 28 and record them at the courthouse on June 29, Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft said at Tuesday’s board of aldermen meeting.

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“Everything is ready,” Craft said at the meeting. “The hold-up was with the lender with how big that loan is … that’s supposed to be closed on the 28th.”

The manufacturing company promises to bring 300 jobs with an average salary of $32,000 annually.

The project has been delayed several times since it was first announced in March 2017, but Natchez Inc.’s Heather Malone said all of the impediments have since been removed.

The company purchased the former Fruit of the Loom manufacturing plant from the city at a price of $12 million, $4 million of which will be paid after the paperwork is finalized and recorded.

The company also owes more than $450,000 to the city in back lease payments, City Accountant Debra Moak said, which will be due when the leasing documents are finalized at the end of the month.

After the series of delays that has postponed the agreement with the city for more than a year, Alderman Tron McCoy asked Craft what would happen if the company did not finalize the agreement by June 28.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” Craft said.

Once the deal is signed and recorded, Craft said the company could move into the Fruit of the Loom facility and begin construction work to make the building compatible with the company’s needs.

“We get our money and they get their money, and they can start work on the building,” Craft said. “They can start the installation of the equipment.”

Though the end seems to be in sight, Craft said he does not yet know when the company will begin hiring or when the facility may begin production.

“I want this thing to get closed, personally,” Craft said. “Let’s get this thing closed and then we’ll work from there.”