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IDA CEO says trip to China beneficial but no deal yet
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Effingham Industrial Development Authority officials are hopeful another international project will be calling Effingham home soon.

IDA Chairman Dennis Webb, IDA CEO John Henry and Effingham College and Career Academy CEO Barbara Prosser traveled to China late last month to return the visit from a prospect known as Project Stella.

“The trip was great,” Henry said. “The country is amazing. The magnitude of it all is hard to comprehend, the size and scope of the cities and the number of people. The facilities we visited were very nice and clean and well above my expectations. The people were great and friendly.”

The anticipated initial investment from the company is pegged at $20 million, with 60 jobs at the onset. Once the company finishes its five-year development plan, the employment total could top 250.

“If it comes, it will be very good,” said IDA member Leon Zipperer. “They want to be good citizens of Effingham County.”

The company and the IDA have been in talks for nearly a year, and no formal agreement has been reached. Project Stella also is said to be looking at locating at the IDA’s Governor Treutlen Site in the Effingham Industrial Park.

“I can neither confirm nor deny any details regarding Project Stella,” Henry said.

Zipperer, the city of Rincon’s representative on the IDA, told Rincon City Council members about what lies ahead for the Medient Studios project. Medient and the IDA entered into a memorandum of understanding in March.

The studio will have a set with four different groups of actors to film scenes for four different languages, Zipperer said. The local impact model, or LOCI, developed by Georgia Tech’s economic development center, predicted the studio would result in 963 jobs and a payroll of more than $37 million, Zipperer pointed out. Those job and payroll figures do not include construction workers needed for the project nor their wages.

“Hopefully, this is going to be real good for the county,” Zipperer said.

Medient also recently announced the addition of a film technology and equipment partner and a German-based movie distributor.

“Apparently, Georgia is becoming a hotbed for movie making,” Rincon councilman Paul Wendelken said.

The project also includes video game and DVD video production.

As bold as the Medient project is in its scope, its buildings and design may be even more so. A suspension bridge will be built and the signature architectural feature may be the Leaf, an amphitheater with a giant, freestanding overhanging leaf design, capable of seating 25,000 people.

“The reason they want the Leaf is the first concert they want to have is Bruce Springsteen,” Zipperer said.

The progress with Medient and with Project Stella are welcome new to the IDA.

“I am very enthusiastic about the projects we have going on right now,” Henry said. “I think we have turned the corner and Effingham County is certainly going to be on the forefront of a lot of people’s minds in the near future. Our project workload is as busy as we’ve ever been.”