Effingham County is joining forces with three neighboring counties to land industrial prospects looking to set up shop along I-16.
County commissioners approved an intergovernmental agreement for the Effingham Industrial Development Authority to collaborate with the development authorities of Bryan, Bulloch and Chatham. The Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Corridor Joint Development Authority will be put into action when projects of a regional nature emerge, projects that may be too large for one development authority or impact multiple counties.
The joint development authority would be enacted on a project-by-project basis.
“This will give us a mechanism to work with the other counties when the need arises,” Effingham IDA CEO John Henry said.
The I-16 development authority would be a “bat signal,” Henry said, when massive projects appear on the horizon.
“There is a need for it,” said IDA chairman Dennis Webb. “It makes sense. We need to get the framework in place for it now.”
Approval for the deepening for the Savannah port, and the expected increase in commerce and industrial prospects that will stem from it, spurred the four development arms to link.
“We’re seeing a lot of growth, and we’ll continue to see a lot more,” Henry said.
But the joint authority won’t be called into action for every project that comes along.
“If we don’t see any benefit to Effingham County, then we don’t participate in that project,” Webb said.
Each county will appoint two members to the joint development authority, and each county will have one member appointed for a two-year term and another appointed for a four-year term.
The I-16 association won’t step on the toes of Effingham’s own IDA and its mission.
The Effingham IDA is also a member of the Mid-Coast United Development Authority, an amalgam of 13 counties. Henry said there are no financial obligations with that organization, even though that joint authority is larger and a little more cumbersome.
Under the intergovernmental agreement between the county and the IDA, the IDA will assume any financial obligations created by the joint authority with the Bryan, Bulloch and Chatham.