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Jackson County Gets Federal Funds For New Manufacturing Center

map of Jackson County
David Melvin, Inc.
A planned industrial park is expected to occupy more than half of the 1,293-acre Endeavor Site, once the former Dozier School for Boys' campus.

Leaders in Jackson County are moving forward with construction on a new manufacturing facility that's expected to provide more than 50 local jobs.

At a recent Board of County Commissioners’ meeting, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross delivered a $2.6 million check to local leaders to help fund a 50,000 square-foot manufacturing warehouse and distribution center in Marianna.

“This is a very specific, very targeted investment for one particular project and it’s one that we think will be especially dynamic in helping diversify the economy here,” Ross explained at the meeting. “It’s not only stimulus, but it’s also to make the economy better balanced and safer on the long-term basis.”

Local leaders say they’re also getting $2 million from the Community Development Block Grant Program to help cover the new building’s construction costs. The project is also receiving $1.5 million from the state’s Rural Infrastructure Fund for a new access road and water, sewer and gas lines to the site. Altogether, the county is getting just over $6.1 million from state and federal agencies.

“The project you have is very well-thought through and combines the three essential ingredients: federal help, state help and private sector assistance,” Ross said.

Local leaders haven't yet said which company will occupy the new facility, but it's expected to immediately hire 75 employees, said David Melvin, a consultant who wrote the grants for the project.

The facility will occupy a little more than an acre on the 1,2930-acre Endeavor site, once the former Dozier School for Boys' campus. After allegations of abuse surfaced, the school closed in 2011. The state returned the land to the county in late 2018.

In addition a new manufacturing center, leaders are also looking at building on the property a historical museum and a workforce training center for people with autism.

Melvin’s firm has also drafted a proposed land use plan for the Endeavor site, which will include an industrial park on more than half of the property.

“We’ve renamed this twelve hundred acres from the Dozier School to Endeavor Park,” Melvin said. “As together, we endeavor to redeem these twelve hundred acres to create good jobs for our rural region.”

Valerie Crowder hosts and produces state and local newscasts during All Things Considered. Her reporting on local government and politics has received state and regional award recognition. She has also contributed stories to NPR newscasts.