Members of the Effingham Industrial Development Authority selected Dennis Webb as the board’s new chairman Thursday morning.
Webb succeeds Chap Bennett, who was not re-appointed to the board by Rincon City Council. Bennett had served as chairman since Martin Wilkins resigned from the IDA in December 2007.
“I’ll try to do the best job I can,” Webb said.
Leon Zipperer was named to replace Bennett’s seat on the IDA board.
Webb, an Effingham County native and former Springfield city council member, said he knows the board has its work cut for it. But he had high praise for the board members and the time and effort they put into their unpaid positions.
“It is a challenge because of the economic times we are in,” said Webb, an Effingham native and former Springfield councilman. “But we have some really good opportunities.”
IDA CEO John Henry said traffic and interest on the IDA’s Web site has shot up dramatically, with the number of visits to the site doubling in December from November. The number of hits to the site also have tripled in the past year.
Henry said he wasn’t sure why the IDA’s site — www.effinghamindustry.com — had generated so much interest of late.
“We know the Web is where site selectors go,” he said, “so we put our site information on there.”
In a recent edition of Site Selection magazine, an industrial development trade industry publication, Effingham had two of Georgia’s three listed megasites. The other is a nearly 1,800-acre site near Augusta.
Henry said there has been interest in the IDA’s I-16 tract.
“One of the things this year is to get out and market I-16 heavily,” Henry said of the 1,556-acre parcels. “I think the tide is going to start turning. I think we have to be prepared.”
Said Webb: “We’ve got to be able to develop the property we have.”
Engineering plans for the I-16 interchange have been completed for quite a while, Henry noted, but the state Department of Transportation did not have the budget set aside for a review of those plans. The DOT now has allocated funding for those plans.
Henry said the countywide transportation committee has been beneficial to pushing the I-16 work along.
“It’s been a good forum, and it’s been inclusive,” he said, adding the input from Rincon and Springfield representatives has been valuable.
The IDA also approved a contract to retain Marvin Fentress of Gray and Pannell in Savannah as the board’s attorney. The contract calls for $60,000 plus incidentals, but Henry pointed out Fentress has never asked the IDA to pay incidentals.
“He usually winds up paying for a sponsorship at our events,” he said. “He’s always on call, and he’s always involved.”