RINCON — A virtual meeting was held by OmniTRAX and A&R Logistics on Aug. 25 to answer questions from parents of Blandford Elementary School parents and staff about the Savannah Gateway Industrial Hub. The industrial site across from the school on McCall Road is set to begin operations in October.
Approximately 100 parents were part of the meeting. Officials said it was intended for the parents, educators and administrators as opposed to the general public in order to be proactive in communicating with the school.
Questions from parents were submitted prior to the meeting and were answered by the panel. A recurring question was whether the school will be relocated.
Effingham County Industrial Development Authority representative Jessica Hood said, according to a statement last week by Effingham Schools Superintendent Dr. Yancy Ford, there are no plans to relocate Blandford Elementary.
The virtual meeting featured speakers representing all of the business partners involved and tried to give parents a good understanding of how the site will operate. Kevin Riley of CSX Railroad told the group that industrial officials will do their best to minimize the truck traffic conflicts with after-hours special events at the school and that schedules are tied directly to the Port of Savannah schedules for shipping.
The speakers walked parents through a brief presentation explaining the processes and continued to emphasize the importance of maintaining safety in the area.
Conner Poe of Norfolk Southern Railroad said that although his company’s tracks run across McCall Road it plans to operate only outside of morning and afternoon school traffic windows. Once the Effingham Parkway is built, truck traffic will take that route in and out of the site. Construction on that project could begin within the next year.
Officials said that they expect their truck traffic to have little impact on school operations and that their traffic should represent only about one-third of the school traffic on any given day. They estimated there will be fewer than 10 truck trips per hour.
Hood said the truck traffic route was designed to not be right in front of the school.
The 1 million square foot A&R Logistics building sits within sight of the Blandford Elementary School complex.
A&R Logistics will receive plastic resin pellets via rail and then repackage and ship them through the Port of Savannah. Company officials noted that they are not a manufacturing facility and no hazardous materials will be handled there.
Officials noted that about $2 million has been spent to widen McCall Road, increasing the traffic circulation. The IDA has been working with Effingham County to identify areas of higher traffic and areas of future growth.
The industrial site was first identified in 2004 and later acquired by the IDA in 2006. Blandford Elementary School opened later that year. This marks the first construction of a dual-served industrial park of the modern era in Georgia.
A&R Logistics Vice President of Operations Brandon Boyd said his company is currently hiring and will employ about 30 people at the start and should have 80-90 employees over the next 12-18 months. He also said, with safety an overall concern, all employees will be trained and the entire site perimeter would be gated and secured.
Alex Buck, senior vice president of A&R Logistics, said interested job seekers can go to Indeed.com and search for A&R Logistics and filter by locations.