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IDA to take wide-ranging look at projects
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With three massive projects already on the table, and potentially prospects heating up, the Effingham Industrial Development Authority is trying to arrange a strategic planning session for its members.

Portuguese electrical components manufacturer EFACEC is narrowing its choices for a firm to design and build what will become its U.S. flagship operations at the Effingham Industrial Park at Highways 21 and 275. The IDA also has begun work on the sprawling I-16 tracts with DP Partners and wants to push forward with plans for the Research Forest Tract.

“It would be very good for us to be all at one table and getting a consistent view of what our future is,” IDA Chairman Chap Bennett said.

“It’s setting your priorities, where do you want to go,” IDA Chief Executive Officer John Henry said. “We need to make sure we have the same goals and vision.”

IDA members will get together June 13. Since many of the board members have been on the board for a year and a half or less, the session will include on-site visits to the I-16 and Research Forest tracts so all the members can orient themselves to what lies ahead.

“I-16 is a humongous project,” Henry said, “and any other community would be glad to have that. There’s 2,300 acres at Research Forest that we need to start getting something done with once we get I-16 wrapped up.”

Henry said a strategic planning session needs to be separated from a regular board meeting because of the time needed to devote to the planning aside from the meeting agenda items. Board members concurred that on-site visits will help them get a better feel for the size of the projects and their potential impacts.

“There’s something about looking at the property and looking at the traffic and looking at the neighbors,” board member Rose Harvey said.

Board member Charles Hinely said it was only three and a half years ago when the IDA had 200 acres of property. But their current holdings are being held up as they await action on the state level.

“To my estimation, we kinda bogged down,” he said. “We’re waiting on a permit for this and we’re waiting on a permit for that. As a board, we need to have enough clout to put our plans at the top of the list. Everywhere we go, it seems like we’ve got another obstacle.”