SPRINGFIELD — The stage for industrial production in Effingham County is getting bigger.
The Effingham County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) recently acquired 448 acres off Old Augusta Road near the Fort Howard Road roundabout in Rincon. The IDA purchased the tract, called Grande View, from the Effingham County Board of Commissioners.
The board of commissioners, per a contract, bought the property from private developers after water and sewer lines weren’t run to it by an agreed upon date.
IDA CEO Brandt Herndon shared his thoughts about Grande View after Thursday’s regularly scheduled IDA meeting.
“Most manufacturers need rail and we don’t have rail out there,” he said. “My vision is more of that small building, having 10 different companies out there as opposed to one big manufacturer.”
The IDA has rail-served sites available for large manufacturers at Savannah Gateway Industrial Hub and other parks.
Grande View features a 1,800-square-foot ranch house that has a leaky roof but is structurally sound.
“I think we all agree that it is not a tear-down,” Herndon said during the meeting.
The IDA members did concur, approving a measure to spend up to $110,000 to repair it. They unanimously consider the house “an amenity to the park” that the IDA can use to meet industrial prospects and businesses can use for cookouts, etc.
Herndon said Effingham County, despite COVID-19, drew considerable interest from industrial prospects in 2020 and he expects more of the same in 2021.
“At the end of the say, our proximity to the (Port of Savannah) is a major driver for economic development here,” he said. “As long as the port continues to grow, we will continue to grow and so will our surrounding counties — not just us.”
Effingham County added five logistics facilities last year.
“I am very bullish on 2021 because the port did very well in 2020,” Herndon said. “If you look at vacancy rates, they are very low. As buildings are built, they are leased so — so far — if we beat this pandemic, there could wind up being a wad of activity in the second half of 2021.
“I really do believe that.”
Herndon said Effingham County’s industrial diversity “is a blessing.” Many of its businesses were dubbed“essential” and remained open during the pandemic in 2020.
“We didn’t have companies leaving,” he said. “It was kind of business as usual with a mask on. We are blessed to have diversity in the county but also have the port that continues to drive opportunities.”