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IDA OKs studios master plan
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The Effingham Industrial Development Authority has approved the master plan submitted by a movie production company that is re-locating to the county.

IDA members acted upon their property committee’s recommendation to give the go-ahead for Medient Studios’ plan on developing nearly 1,500 acres between Interstate 16 and Old River Road. Medient wants to build a movie studio, along with DVD and video game production facilities, on the site. The plans also include hotels, retail and housing for company employees.

The groundbreaking for the studio is set for Aug. 29 at 11 a.m., and the closing of the deal between IDA and Medient has been extended to Aug. 28.

“A lot of paperwork has to get done before Monday,” IDA CEO John Henry said. “It gives us a window of opportunity.”

The property committee voted last month to recommend Medient’s master plan.

“We had a really good showing of people,” Henry. “We had a good conversation about the project and how to accommodate water and sewer needs. There are a few issues we’re going to have to work out with water and sewer service provisions, but it doesn’t have to be done today for phase 1.”

Henry added that access to the property off Bay Road and the entrance off Old River Road are under determination.

“All the engineering for the roads has got to be done, and it’s all subject to review by the county,” he said.

IDA member Dick Knowlton said the questions and comments during the property committee meeting were a positive indication for the county.

“For the first time, I’ve really felt comfortable that the county is aware of the project and all its ramifications,” he said. “The county and the client agreed sequentially who has to do what and the client realizes our participation, other than as an advocate for them, really is almost over. I feel really good that there won’t be glitches in the future because somebody won’t realize there was an action they had to participate in.”

The closing documents also have to be signed by Medient’s attorneys in Atlanta and by IDA officials, some of whom will be out of town between Thursday’s decisions and the groundbreaking.

“Bear with us in this process,” Henry asked of IDA members.

IDA members also approved an incentive plan for the staff of $75 per job created by the Medient Studios project. How those bonuses will be disbursed will be up to Henry. IDA officials approved in June a bond with a maximum of $300 million for the project.