An August Update
During the fourth and final week of this August congressional work period, I was able to spend time in the northern and eastern parts of Alabama’s Second District. I was in Union Springs to celebrate the opening of the new farmers market. In Eufaula, I participated in a business roundtable hosted by the Chamber of Commerce where we discussed the country’s economic momentum and how upcoming decisions on health care, tax reform, and infrastructure can help us build on recent job growth.
I had a productive visit with Col. Randy Efferson of the 187th Fighter Wing at Dannelly Field in Montgomery as we prepare for a final decision on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Almost everywhere I go I am asked when we will know if Montgomery will land the F-35 program. My office has been working with congressional and community partners for more than two years on this project, and I firmly believe the 187th Fighter Wing is well positioned to be one of the two Air National Guard units selected for this mission. Winning the F-35 would be a tremendous boost to this community and the whole state – as many as 1,000 jobs, as much as 70 million dollars in investment – and that’s just the beginning. The final decision has been delayed now a few times, but we expect one by the end of September.
I finished the week in Prattville where I got to tour the old Pratt Gin Shop. Daniel Pratt’s Cotton Gin Company, or “the gin shop” to locals, was Alabama’s first manufacturing industry and once produced more cotton gins than any other establishment in the world. The iconic buildings positioned on the Autauga Creek in downtown Prattville date back to 1848 and are a historic treasure for Prattville and the State of Alabama. Unfortunately, since production ceased permanently in 2010, the buildings have fallen into a state of disrepair. For years Prattville residents have been searching for a way to redevelop this historic site, but there have been tough setbacks along the way.
Historic Prattville Redevelopment Authority Chairman Tom Newton invited me to come tour the site along with Prattville Mayor Bill Gillespie and State Senator Clyde Chambliss. We discussed ways the city, state, and private developers are working together to save the landmark and develop it into a one-of-a-kind residential area.
For those who aren’t familiar with the situation, the Historic Prattville Redevelopment Authority purchased the factory complex in 2014 in order to preserve the site and eventually find a company to execute the plan for the buildings: conversion into apartment homes and special event spaces that can be rented by the public. After some time, LEDIC Realty invested $20 million in the project and is currently overseeing the redevelopment work. I am grateful for their dedication to manage this project and their investment in the community. I’m very impressed with the plans LEDIC has to refurbish the old buildings. This effort is a great example of public-private partnership.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent at Prattville’s Gin Shop. I’m told construction is set to begin in the spring and the first phase will take approximately 18 months to complete. I know Prattville residents will be excited once this historic landmark is brought to new life.
With the August work period now behind us, I would like to offer a sincere “thank you” to all the individuals, businesses, local officials, and others who hosted me and visited with me throughout this past month. It is always a joy to visit the different counties in our district, and I look forward to more opportunities to talk with and learn from those I represent.