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EDA close to landing 'big one'
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The Effingham County Economic Development Authority may be close to landing exactly what it’s been seeking for its land along Highway 21.

The EDA has been asked to prepare a set of incentives for what is a major prospect, according to Chief Executive Officer John Henry.

“We have had some very serious site visits,” he said. “They don’t come any better, with a huge potential for growth.”
State officials who are working on wooing the company to Georgia have been asked to have an incentives package ready by Wednesday.

“Time is of the essence,” Henry said. “They are on the fast track.”

Because of the nature of the confidentiality of the negotiations, Henry could not name the company that has taken a long look at moving to Effingham County’s industrial park between Rincon and Springfield.

What is known is that is a European company that manufactures electrical components for power generation. The estimated investment from the company is $100 million, with around 400 jobs once it’s fully staffed. The average annual salary for its workforce will be around $51,000.

Company officials have toured the frontage site along Highway 21 twice.

“They were tickled to death,” Henry said.

The company, in its site selection process, is looking not only for a new plant but also somewhere to put its U.S. headquarters. They also want room for expansion.

“These guys are serious,” Henry said.

The EDA has held that tract in an effort to land a major employer that will bring a headquarters-type operation. That is apparently what the company that has placed Effingham at the top of its wish list has in mind.

The company has visited other states and other sites in Georgia, but is leaning toward Effingham.

“It’s our understanding that it’s Georgia’s to lose,” Henry said of the company.

Other stops have included Statesboro, Claxton, Savannah and Liberty County.

“We were told our site was the best,” Henry said. “Everybody in the state would give their eyeteeth to get them.”

Liberty County may offer Effingham its strongest competition among the other Georgia hopefuls. As a Tier 1 county, Liberty can offer more job creation tax credits. An employer can earn thousands of dollars in tax credits for each job credited in a Tier 1 county. Liberty is classified as a Tier 1 by the state Department of Community Affairs because of its lower per capita income. Effingham is a Tier 4 county, along with such metropolitan counties as Columbia, Cobb and Gwinnett.

Whoever does land the outfit also has to be able to provide a highly-skilled labor force. Because of the nature of the products they make and supply, workers have to be proficient.

“They do not want low-skilled labor,” Henry said.

The company will take 20 U.S. workers to their headquarters to train them on their processes and have those 20 train the workforce.

Henry said the company’s decision on where to go will be a combination of the best site and an attractive incentive package. He also said he doesn’t want to give away the store, but he wanted board input before negotiating a $100 million deal.

“This, more or less, is the big one,” he said.