Economic Development

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William S. Mendenhall
 

Baker Donelson’s unique history and geographic diversity allow the Firm to bring together lawyers of varied backgrounds and perspectives to make remarkable contributions in the area of economic development. We provide our clients with a firm that is local in its experience, history and relationships, yet truly regional in its capacities, practice quality and capabilities. The Firm's public law, public finance, business and real estate practices have converged during the past decade to produce one of the most evolved and comprehensive economic development practices of any firm in the southeastern United States. Each of these practice areas make Baker Donelson uniquely qualified to represent industrial and commercial concerns in partnership with state and local governments throughout the Southeast.

For many years, Baker Donelson has maintained one of the leading business and commercial real estate practices in the South. Our lawyers routinely represent businesses in connection with manufacturing and warehouse projects, commercial and retail developments, and housing developments throughout Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee. Our projects have included automotive plants, warehouse and shipping facilities, shopping centers, mixed-use developments, and water and sewer infrastructure developments.

Likewise, our public law practice in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia and Washington, D.C., has created invaluable relationships in municipal, county, state and federal government. The Firm serves as general counsel and special counsel to a wide variety of governmental entities. This work includes not only routine governmental representation, but also traditional and non-traditional public finance projects and public infrastructure projects, such as potable and industrial water systems, transportation corridors, intermodal facilities, airports, and waste water collection and treatment systems. Because of our experience in these areas, our attorneys have the unique perspective of viewing economic development projects through the eyes of public bodies as well as the private sector.

Baker Donelson's public finance lawyers have served as bond counsel, underwriter's counsel, issuer's counsel, trustee's counsel, bond insurer's counsel and credit enhancer's counsel in virtually every area of both tax exempt and taxable public finance throughout Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Combining these disciplines allows Baker Donelson to participate in many of the most significant economic development projects in the southern United States. Our practice experience in this area includes:

  • Drafting state and federal incentive legislation for the benefit of a variety of industries.
  • Structuring public-private partnerships and securing incentive packages from local and state governments.
  • Negotiation of agreements for payments in lieu of taxes for businesses in various industries and locations.
  • Implementing local, state and federal incentive packages.
  • Developing and implementing tax-exempt financing vehicles.
  • Assisting in the negotiation of traditional and non-traditional financing alternatives.
  • Accessing grant funds available for construction of public and quasi-public infrastructure.
  • Assembling, negotiating and closing the acquisition of real estate and related easements required for new facilities.
  • Negotiating with state and local utility companies for contracts to provide for the construction of utilities infrastructure and for the provision of utilities, including water, sewer, electricity, gas, and telecommunications.
  • Working with state and county officials for the construction of roadway improvements.
  • Negotiating with local governmental authorities to obtain special zoning ordinances.
  • Advising on all aspects of environmental compliance and permitting.
  • Negotiating and implementing construction contracts, including the negotiation of project management and general contractor agreements, oversight of the bidding process, negotiation of contractor packages, and resolution of change order and pay request disputes.
  • Guiding businesses through state workforce programs and incentives.
  • Drafting and negotiating supply contracts.
  • Providing on-site labor and employment training programs.
  • Assisting with state and local tax compliance and reporting procedures, and addressing state taxation issues unique to large-scale economic development projects.

Our economic development representation includes our service for many years as the primary outside counsel assisting state agencies in economic development projects throughout Mississippi. In this role, Baker Donelson attorneys helped in developing incentive packages for numerous automotive companies, as well as companies in other industries, considering sites in Mississippi. Similarly, we have represented a number of local governmental entities such as the Industrial Development Board of Hamilton County, Tennessee in a wide variety of projects benefiting industries in specific geographic areas. Examples of private sector representation include the prime contractor in connection with Honda's recently completed Alabama plant. In that role, we were responsible for the negotiation and documentation of all plans, specifications and contracts, as well as the negotiation and resolution of all issues with vendors and suppliers. Likewise, we represented a major Japanese subsidiary in the acquisition of the site for its new $200 million truck and axle manufacturing plant in Marion, Arkansas. We were lead counsel for the client in all aspects of this project, from initial property acquisition through plant completion.

We also assisted the parent corporation for a major truck line manufacturer in the site selection process for the company’s first North American engine plant. Ultimately, on behalf of this client, we successfully negotiated a $48 million incentive package from the State of Mississippi, in connection with the client's selection of its new site in Columbus, Mississippi.

This broad background provides the Firm with unmatched experience in understanding and resolving the issues facing manufacturers, suppliers, commercial and residential developers, retailers and many other businesses, when locating, developing and constructing new facilities. Our experience has enabled us to build permanent, positive relationships with the individual state and local officials who will be responsible for implementing state law and policy with respect to the granting of incentives and regulating businesses locating anywhere in the South.