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Major projects on radar for Newton County
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Despite the gloomy market, interest in Newton County's development potential remains high with three unnamed projects reportedly very interested in locating new industries in the county.

Covington/Newton County Chamber of Commerce President John Boothby in his second quarter report to the Covington City Council on Monday was enthusiastic about the possibilities of three projects in particular, codenamed Project Cougar, Project Smart and Project Daybreak, for the county.

Few specific details are known about the projects due to the state's economic development department policy of non-disclosure of business and industry leads for fear that other states may try and woo them away.

"We think that we're on the shortest of lists," Boothby said Tuesday. "The only problem here is will they make a move at all. We're going to work hard to get them to come here."

Should Project Smart decide to locate in Newton County, it would create 100 new jobs for a local tech company and bring with it a $10 million investment. Project Daybreak would cover 30 acres and bring with it a $15 million investment. Boothby said the project developers are currently in talks with the state and chamber over some additional incentives the company is seeking to locate in the county. All that is currently known of Project Cougar is that it would come with a 20,000 square-foot building.

"We are looking for ways to help them better absorb the costs associated with the move," Boothby said. "If we can answer that question then we will have a very good chance of getting them to locate here. It won't result in a cost to us if we structure it right."

While Boothby is excited about the prospects of Project Smart, Project Cougar and Project Daybreak, the chamber also followed up on leads for several other economic development projects including two named ones - AHD International, a distributor of nutrition products, and Pearson Engineering, a home interior engineering firm.

"You try to stay alive through the process. They weigh your community against the others and begin a process of elimination and that's where we are," Boothby said.

The chamber also followed up on leads for Project Boss, which if the county lands it, would create 1,000 new jobs and bring a $700 million investment. Boothby was quick to caution that Project Boss is looking at a large number of possible locations.

Two separate private schools are considering opening schools in the county, one of which has disclosed that it would come with a $10 million to $20 million investment.

The county did land a new business in the second quarter, San Benito Shutters, which plans to build a 13,000 square foot building on Hazelbrand Road behind the Sherwin-Williams.

In the second quarter, the chamber pursued leads on 18 projects, four of which the county did not land or are reportedly being halted until the economy turns around.