Business is booming in Athens these days.

Athens Economic Development Corporation board members reviewed, discussed and, in some cases, approved requests for grants and contract extensions for several existing local businesses during a regular board meeting held Thursday.

“Our main concern is getting new jobs into the area,” board member Shelly Tubbs said.

Board members approved a $34,000 grant and a 12-month expansion reimbursement agreement for Purselly Construction Co. to help the company expand into making custom cabinets.

“We want to market on a larger scale,” owner Carl Purselly said. “We looked into renting, and the costs are relatively comparable to building. I figure it would be better to just build to our specs right off.”

Purselly said his three-phase plan included expanding to include the cabinet shop, a custom door and drawer assembly and a show-room and design center; then expanding to increase production and add a finish shop to be able to produce custom finished cabinets; and finally add a mill shop to produce custom trim.

“We haven’t even started, and we’ve already got more business than we know what to do with,” he told board members last week at the informational meeting held April 13.

Purselly initially requested a grant of $30,000 for 10 new jobs and a loan of $47,000, with the promise of at least 10 new jobs created in the first two years. The board approved a grant of $34,000 for the new jobs, following the trends set with similar grants to other businesses.

“The more you hire, the more we’ll pay,” board member David Daniels said. “But I have a real problem with paying anything up front.”

The grant will be paid quarterly and the building reimbursement of $1,000 a month for 12 months was agreed upon.

Board members also heard from Dick Thorn with Advantage Brewer, who requested their support contract be extended.

The issue was tabled at the April 13 meting because board members requested more recent information than what was presented at that meeting.

“There’s no update yet,” Thorn said during Thursday’s meeting. “We’re still waiting to hear from McDonald’s. It’s nothing negative at all, we’re just waiting for them to move. I’m not asking you to buy a pig in a poke.”

Thorn said the chain restaurant and a couple others are interested in selling coffee made with Advantage machines in the chains. Thorn said there was also the possibility of a merger with a national brand.

“We should know something within 60 days,” Thorn said. “They’ve said we’d continue being a free-standing company, in Athens. When it happens it’s going to explode, but I can’t say for sure when anything’s going to happen.”

The AEDC provides $3,000 a month to Advantage for rent. Board members have the last payment in May to make, then the current agreement is up.

Board members approved extending payments through July.

AEDC board members also approved:

• allowing AEDC executive director Herbert Gatlin to pursue negotiations for land adjacent to the city’s industrial park; and

• a request from Grant Reality for a $50,000 technical assistance grant to Accenture.

Any action the AEDC makes is subject to the approval of the Athens City Council, which meets 5:30 p.m. Monday at the City Hall Annex.



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