Proposed Agricultural Center in Lauderdale County awaits governor’s signature

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FLORENCE, Ala. – It appears a new 10,000-seat arena is one step closer to becoming a reality in Lauderdale County. Funding bills are awaiting the governors signature, which includes a two-cent gas tax already in place.

Despite opposition over the funding mechanism, the state legislature has approved three bills which provide funding for an Agricultural Center and workforce training facility. Projects which will likely land on 160-acres just off Florence Boulevard.

State Senator Tim Melson has said he has been working on this development for a couple of years.

Representative Lynn Greer joined Melson is pushing the bills through this legislative session.

Melson plans to use a two-cent gas tax already in place along with TVA “In-Lieu-of-Tax” dollars to sustain the ag center.

Located just outside the Florence city limits – Melson expects the project to cost more than $30-million. Money which will be borrowed through a 40-year loan from the USDA.

Northwest Shoals Community College also plans to build a workforce development center on the land.

A parcel of the property is also being considered by Lauderdale County Board of Education. They have said a new career technical center is needed for the school system.

State Senator Larry Stutts has said he is for the projects, but thought residents should decide if the gas tax should be used to pay for the development.

Governor Ivey must sign the legislative bills before the agricultural center can move forward in planning.

Senator Melson has said he would like to be moving dirt by the end of the year.