The Effingham Industrial Development Authority’s deal with a film studio took another step forward, as IDA members approved a bond resolution for the project.
"This allows us to move forward with the bond validation," said IDA CEO John Henry.
The bonds can be worth up to $300 million, though the actual amount is expected to be far short of that, and the IDA will act as the conduit for the bonds. Once the bonds are issued, Medient will proceed with building the nation’s largest movie studio complex at the IDA’s Interstate 16 property. Medient and the Effingham IDA entered into a memorandum of understanding in March, with the studio agreeing to build a film, video game and DVD production facility on 1,500 acres of the I-16 northern tract.
The project is anticipated to bring more than 1,000 jobs to the community. According to Medient’s development schedule, construction of phase 1 is expected to start in early September. The company’s production facility is expected to be a $90 million investment.
Medient and the IDA are expected to enter into a 20-year lease for the property, with the IDA providing $1.25 million in site development.
"This is an extremely ambitious project," Henry said, "and I am pleased that Medient continues to demonstrate its ability to deliver on its commitments at every stage of the process. We are delighted that criteria we set in the MOU are being met and Medient can begin to develop the property as envisaged in the MOU."
Medient and the IDA are targeting July 17 as the date to close on the deal for the property. Medient CEO and chairman Manu Kumaran praised Henry and Effingham IDA chairman Dennis Webb, along with the rest of the board.
"We are excited and happy that the operational phase of the project will soon commence and look forward to the opening of the facility," he said. "The IDA and Dennis and John have been extraordinary partners and we are privileged to have their support."
The bonds are a pass-through, and no funds will come from the IDA, said IDA attorney Ted Carellas.
The IDA also approved an Economic Development Growth and Expansion, or EDGE, grant resolution for the studio and engaged a grant-writing firm to complete the grant application. The company is getting a $3 million grant from the state, with the grant being disbursed as the studio meets employment benchmarks.