It’s been the busiest period for the Effingham Industrial Development Authority that John Henry can remember in his 11 years there.
The IDA CEO said that for the first time in his tenure there are four projects under way simultaneously — DRT America, PortFresh Logistics, Rincon Solar and OmniTrax. The IDA also is continuing to work on the entrance road to its Interstate 16 North tract.
“It really is a unique situation,” Henry said. “Four projects on four properties for the first time in 10 years — that is pretty exciting.”
PortFresh Logistics, the cold storage operation on the I-16 south tract, is working on the building pad for the 100,000 square foot facility. It will occupy 20 of the nearly 180 acres on the south side. Construction is expected to be finished later this year and the facility is projected to start with 40 full-time jobs. Eventually, it is estimated to employ 75 full-time workers.
DRT America held a groundbreaking for its first U.S. operation last month, and it is expected to open a $43 million facility next year. The turpentine-distilling operation will have 40 workers at full capacity. Clearing and grading of the site, the 80-plus-acre Governor Treutlen tract in the Effingham Industrial Park, has begun.
Rincon Solar is installing the panels on its 287-acre complex off Lowground and McCall roads.
“If you’ve been down McCall Road, you can’t miss the project,” Henry said.
OmniTRAX and the IDA reached an agreement earlier this year that will allow the private railroad and transportation management company to develop the 2,600 acres formerly known as the Research Forest Tract. OmniTRAX is working on a master plan that will unfold in several phases for the 1,800 upland acres and include a site for a single mega-user.
OmniTRAX is conducting due diligence and planning for the site and a meeting with Effingham County, Rincon, IDA, Georgia Ports Authority and Georgia Department of Transportation officials to go over the issues with the site is being put together.
Work on the access road into the I-16 north tract continues, Henry said. The IDA agreed to take over completion of the road as its contribution to the Moon River Studios project, which since has fallen through. But control of the entire nearly 1,600 acres now reverts back to the IDA and it can start marketing that land again.
The IDA also approved a contract for a grant administrator in conjunction with the $400,000 OneGeorgia grant for PortFresh Logisitics. The grant itself was double the usual maximum amount, Henry said.
The IDA has set five-year goals of increasing employment in goods producing and select service producing sectors by 476 jobs per year and increasing the industrial portion of the tax digest to 10 percent. It is currently at 5.78 percent.