A public-private partnership between the City of Gulf Shores and Saunders Yachtworks establishes a major vessel repair complex on the Intracoastal Waterway in the heart of Gulf Shores. Gulf Shores, Alabama (April 5, 2011) - A $10+ million public-private partnership is funded by the City of Gulf Shores, Saunders Yachtworks of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, and the Economic Development Agency of the US Commerce Department. White-Spunner Construction, a Mobile-based general contracting firm, is awarded a $5,144 million contract to build the 2nd phase of the project which has been six years in planning and design. White-Spunner will begin construction April 18 on the basin, docks, and heavy-lift infrastructure components. The time of construction is 15 months. The facility is located on 14 acres owned by the City and its Airport Authority and leased to Saunders on a long-term arrangement. With 965’ of water frontage on the ICW, the site is ideal for a full-service vessel repair facility as designed. Customers for the facility are expected to be drawn from the entire northern Gulf Coast, the inland rivers of the US up to the Great Lakes, and from south Florida. Recreational, military, and commercial vessel operators will be served by the complex. Dry dock capacity is designed for vessels up to 150 tons, 120’ in length. (Clark, Geer, Latham & Associates, Inc. of Mobile, AL designed and engineered the project under contract with the City). “We are thrilled to have been selected to construct this exciting new dry dock basin for the city of Gulf Shores and Saunders Yachtworks,” said Seth Smith, project manager for White-Spunner Construction. “This visionary undertaking will create many new jobs as well as stimulate the local economy for years to come.” A groundbreaking ceremony and media event is set for Thursday, April 7 at 4:30 p.m. with a reception to follow hosted by Saunders Yachtworks located at 605 Waterway East Blvd in Gulf Shores, AL. When awarding their grant for the project, EDA characterized the investment as strategic. The agency recognized the project for its private sector collaboration, which would create higher-skill, higher-wage jobs. The project also met several of its mission parameters related to technological innovation, entrepreneurship, and regional economic impact. The marine basin and dry dock will create approximately 180 construction jobs during the 15-month construction phase, Seth Smith of White-Spunner Construction said. Saunders, which currently employs 45 full-time employees at its Orange Beach boatyard, estimates it will add 25 new jobs within two years of opening its Gulf Shores facility. Saunders is a 52-year-old, family-owned company with annual sales of $7 million. Sales are expected to reach $12+ million when the boatyard is fully operational. “This is a future-leaning project,” Andrew Saunders, company chairman said. “It is all about what we can develop into the future by seizing the opportunities of a large regional market. We are combining the major infrastructure capacity of the new yard, with the proven performance history of our company, and presenting that to an expanding regional market. We are confident this will be a winning combination for our company and for the community.” Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft said the dry dock would bring many new people to the area, but the partnership with Saunders marks a significant step toward the city’s dual goals of industrial and geographic diversification. “Most of our development has been on the beaches and most of it has been geared toward tourism,” Craft said. “One of our important goals has been to move away from a tourism-based economy on the beaches. Our second coast is the Intracoastal Waterway and this development is a huge step forward in promoting that second coast and our area.” The city of Gulf Shores ultimately will contribute $1,189,600 of matching funds to the project representing a total infrastructure investment of $5,948,000. Saunders Yachtworks already has invested $3.6 million in the Gulf Shores project including land and construction costs. Saunders completed a new 15,000-square-foot headquarters on the Gulf Shores site in 2009 that includes shops, warehouses and offices. The company will invest another $1.2 million for dry dock machinery and lift equipment. White-Spunner Construction will excavate the marine basin; install bulkheads, concrete and timber piers, re-direct storm water from the Jack Edward Airport, and construct structural slabs on grade for travel lifts and boat storage, Smith said. Saunders said he is delighted to be working with White-Spunner Construction. “We are pleased to have a well-known, reputable, local contractor building this project. This is a complex, sophisticated project and White-Spunner has a fine record of success with such projects.”