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Effingham IDA recaps busy year
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The Effingham Industrial Development Authority, in its first year-end review, discussed its accomplishments for the year so far and announced a goal to nearly double its portion of the property digest.

IDA members agreed to an aim of having the industrial sector of the property digest reach 10 percent in five years. Reaching that objective will require capital investment of approximately $32.3 million each year over five years, according to IDA CEO John Henry.

For the year, the IDA has announced four projects coming to fruition, representing more than $82 million in investment and 71 initial direct jobs, with the potential for more than 150.

“Most of that has occurred in the last two months,” Henry said, noting the year is not yet finished. “A lot can happen in 45 days.”

The IDA worked 14 major projects during the year, which carried with them $1.85 billion in direct capital investment and over 2,600 jobs.

There also were two projects carried over from 2014, Project Peach and Project Magnolia. Project Peach was the Volvo plant that ultimately landed in South Carolina. Project Magnolia is Moon River Studios.

The four projects that are coming to Effingham means the IDA had a 29 percent success rate.

“The accepted number for real good entities is 10-20 percent,” said IDA member Dick Knowlton, the former chairman of the Savannah Economic Development Authority.

“That’s pretty good activity,” said Henry. “If we could get 30 percent of the projects that come through the door in 2015, I’d be happy.”
Henry added three projects have put Effingham County on a short list or are in progress.

“That means they’re still out there,” he said. “They’re still active projects. Two of them are ones we are actively working. They are pretty new coming in the door.”

The fate of five projects is unknown, Henry said, and those are predominantly projects that came to Effingham from the state.
IDA members welcomed the report from Henry about what the staff has done this year.

“It really tells a lot,” said vice-chairman Jimmy Wells.

Three of the four projects the IDA announced also were generated in-house, Henry said.

“We were shortlisted or landed 50 percent of the 2015 projects,” he said. “Also, 50 percent of the projects were generated in-house, rather from the state or from the development arms of the utility companies. That’s a statement in itself.”

IDA members approved the bond resolution for Project Douglas, which is DRT America and will be taking most of the Governor Treutlen tract. Operation is scheduled to start in 2017 and a $43 million facility will be built. The initial employment will be 40 workers.

The IDA also last month approved a land sale with Savannah Cold Storage LLC for the I-16 south tract. The IDA provided assistance to existing industries regarding expansion opportunities and state programs enrollment.

“It’s been a busy year, and I think it was a successful year,” Henry said. “We are sometimes the envy of our surrounding communities and they wonder how much traffic we get flowing through here. It’s because we’re in a great location.”