The directors of the Decatur Economic Development Corp. agreed Thursday to pre-pay part of the remaining $100,000 due to H2X Hydro-Excavating Co. as its building begins to take shape.
The company, which operates a fleet of trucks that do excavating with high-pressure water rather than mechanical digging equipment, moved its national headquarters to Decatur in 2012 and secured a $200,000 grant from the EDC – half payable immediately and the other half when the building was completed and certain employment goals were met.
H2X signed the agreement with the EDC in November 2012, and the city council gave its final approval last January. But after months of delays, property owner C.L. Gage and builder John Schedcik still do not have a building permit to build the 12,000 square foot facility in the northeast part of the city.
A meeting last Friday got the project “out of the ditch” according to City Manager Brett Shannon.
The building permit should be issued Tuesday.
“Evidently it had been kind of sitting, spinning its wheels a little bit,” Shannon told the EDC board Thursday morning. After an email from H2X President Mike Clark, Shannon met with city staff and then got Clark and Schedcik to come to the Friday meeting.
“Over about a two-hour meeting with all the people in the room, I hope we got this project back on track,” he said. “Other than a couple of little housekeeping items, the game plan is to – if we get those items – issue the building permit next Tuesday.”
He said it would be Monday, except that is a federal holiday.
The city is also going to foot the bill for about $80,000 in paving to make sure streets around the building are up to the heavy traffic the water-laden trucks will bring. City Public Works Director Earl Smith said his crews will likely wait until all the concrete is poured for the building before they go to work on the streets.
“It won’t take long once the flatwork gets done,” he said.
Clark, who attended the EDC meeting along with his brother Kelly, the company’s chief operating officer, said the difference between last week and this week was significant.
“We did have two wheels in the ditch, and they weren’t coming out,” he said. “I think it’s a whole different atmosphere this week.
“I don’t think it’s going to take very long to build once we break ground – it’s a steel building, not the Taj Mahal.”
He said his board had asked for some of the remaining $100,000 in incentive funds to be paid out prior to the completion of construction.
“We’ve done what we intended to do, to the extent that we could, without a building,” he said. “Our board has asked, as a gesture of good faith, that we do an interim payment once the permit is issued – a split payment.”
EDC director Roy Eaton suggested a payment once the slab is poured, another once the building is up and the final payment when the certificate of occupancy is issued.
“I’m sure the board will seriously consider that, since it’s not any additional money,” Shannon said. “Instead of one check, we write two checks or three checks.”
The hydro-excavation process is applicable for highway, utility construction, oilfield and other applications. The company already has several regional offices and is planning further expansion.