“There’s no doubt we’re going to be short,” said Cervelli.
IDA as well as county and state elected officials worked hard to entice Vanguard, which produces semi-truck trailers, to locate its new manufacturing facility in Trenton. Under the deal announced last summer, Vanguard is slated to invest about $30 million in the Dade plant and to provide 400 sorely-needed jobs here.
In return, besides tax abatement and other financial incentives at both county and state levels, IDA made a $500,000 commitment to provide infrastructure—“Roads, basically,” explained Cervelli—at the new industrial park expansion where the Vanguard plant is currently under construction.
But the route from U.S. Highway 11 into the new industrial park section involves crossing the railroad tracks that bisect Dade County, and Cervelli and crew learned to their dismay that their half-million dollars would not go far after they paid Norfolk-Southern’s bill for new signaling: $420,000.
Cervelli told the city commission that the Georgia Department of Transportation had initially pledged to add $204,000 to IDA’s $500,000, and was later persuaded to part with another $200,000. “It’s still not enough,” he said.
He estimated the total real cost of IDA’s infrastructure commitment at $1.2 million, with cash in hand as it stands now at $904,00. That leaves a gap of $349,000, he said.
Cervelli reminded the commission that IDA had talked Vanguard into locating its plant within Trenton city limits and asked the town to add its financial support to the project. “I would like to see somewhere between $50- and $100,000,” he said.
Trenton Mayor Alex Case agreed that the Vanguard plant was vital for the area’s future—“We’ve got to support them”—but balked at committing funds from city license and fees collections. “We’ve got a lot of lean months ahead,” he said.
Case and the city commissioners agreed to consider devoting $50,000 from municipal SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax) funds, but not until after a special work session to be called on SPLOST expenditures.
Cervelli said after the meeting that both Vanguard and IDA were pushing forward with the project despite the financial complications, and that the facility was still expected to be turning out truck trailers by sometime this July.
He said operations would probably start out small, with perhaps 50 employees to begin with.