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Stream of prospects keeping IDA staff busy

POSTED: November 22, 2011 1:17 p.m.

Though the Effingham Industrial Development Authority wasn’t chosen for two large prospects, interest in the community remains strong, IDA CEO John Henry said.

Effingham had been shortlisted, making it one of the finalists, for the Continental Tire plant that eventually located in Sumter, S.C. The plant, according to the South Carolina Department of Commerce, will mean a $500 million investment and more than 1,700 jobs over the next 10 years. South Carolina also is said to have offered as much as $31 million in incentives.

“We were looked upon favorably,” Henry said.

But the IDA also needed to have its due diligence completed at its I-16 site for the prospect, codenamed Project Soccer.

The IDA also was a finalist for Project Blue, a plastics company from India that eventually chose Decatur, Ala. Polyplex represented a $187 million investment and is expected to employ approximately 150 people.

What tipped the scales in Alabama’s balance, according to Henry, was the proximity to one of the company’s major suppliers to the Mallard-Fox Creek Industrial Park.

“It’s a great site,” he said.

Another potential prospect, referred to as Project Delta, has been hot, then cold and now is hot again after a recent site visit.

Another prospect, estimated to have a $500 million investment, also made a site visit to Effingham recently.

Other projects also remain active, as many as seven for Henry and the IDA staff to handle and for which to compile requested information. According to the IDA, the current active prospects represent $2.8 billion in investments and 6,860 jobs.

One prospect has expressed interest in the Governor Treutlen site and Effingham has been targeted for what is potentially a significant prospect, perhaps as many as 1,000 jobs. But that prospect hasn’t narrowed its list down.

“We know it’s very large,” Henry said. “But we could be one of 200 they’re looking at.”

One prospect is said to be moving forward with its financial application and another is research-related and rail-related.

“A lot of projects are kicking the tires,” Henry said. “I think the economy in this region is going to be improving with the projects looking at the area. Not just in terms of investment and job creation but also in infrastructure, we are much better located than other sites.”

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