RINCON — No lights. No paint on the walls. No carpet. No problem.
The Effingham County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) conducted a meeting in its future home Thursday without any of the amenities it will soon have. While seated in plastic chairs around a folding table, the members approved a $215,000 upgrade to “the lodge” at 777 Old Augusta Road.
The move to “the lodge,” an 1,800-square-foot ranch house on a 448-acre tract known as Grande View, was necessitated by the impending sale of the IDA’s current headquarters in Springfield to Effingham Health System.
In January, the IDA approved a measure to spend up to $110,000 on repairs to the house. The roof was in poor shape but the structure was sound otherwise.
The IDA’s original intent was to use the “stripped-down” house to recruit industrial prospects and allow businesses to conduct events there. The inability to find a suitable new home in Rincon, however, forced the need for additional renovations, including the installation of new cabinets and furniture.
“... this will be where we have to bring prospects for the next several years so we need to have something that we can be proud of that compares with our friends and competitors down here on the coast,” IDA CEO Brandt Herndon said.
Built South issued the budget proposal for the enhanced upgrade. It includes the cost of landscaping around the building.
Herndon encouraged swift action because he has promised Effingham Health System that the IDA will leave its Springfield office by July 1. He added that an additional 30 days might be necessary.
“Everybody has moved from their houses plenty of times,” Herndon said. “You know how complicated that can be. This is going to be even a little bit more complicated.”
The Effingham County Chamber of Commerce will also be on the move thanks to the sale of the IDA building. The chamber was an IDA tenant.
“We are temporarily moving into some small office space in Springfield for a year,” said Andy Cripps, chamber CEO. “Our board (Thursday) put out an RFP (Request for Proposal) for a longer-term office space up to five years. We’ve already been approached by some prospects but we wanted to be as open and fair, and do our due diligence to make a process that everybody gets included.
“That’s where we are.”
The chamber’s new space is located at the rear of a building at 807 S. Laurel St.
In February, the IDA came close to reaching lease deal on a Rincon property that would have allowed the neighborly relationship with the chamber to continue. It fell through, however.
“We tried to stay together and go to Rincon together but it just didn’t work out that way ...,” Herndon said. “Maybe that’s just the way it was meant to be. We enjoyed having the chamber as friends in the building ...”
The IDA remains hopeful to find a permanent home in Rincon.
“We are grateful for the partnership with the IDA over the years,” Cripps said. “During the time that I’ve been here, it’s been a very enjoyable and, I think, a collaborative and mutually beneficial arrangement.”
Cripps said the chamber intends to move by July 1.