It’s been a big week for the Effingham County Economic Development Authority.
The EDA finally finalized the contract with industrial developer DP Partners, reaching an agreement with the firm to build and market the EDA’s two tracts straddling I-16 near Meldrim.
At face value, the deal is worth close to $40 million. But when it’s all said and done, EDA officials believe the impact will be manyfold.
Still, it will be several years down the road before the LogistiCenter at Savannah, the name DP Partners is giving the I-16 tract, springs up out of the ground and companies begin moving in. Much work remains ahead, especially with Old River Road. The curve on the northern side must be straightened and safety improvements must be carried out. There also are buffers and berms to put in place. Those tasks, particularly the roads, could take a couple of years to finish.
The EDA is working on plans to furnish the sites with water and sewer service, but those too will take time and capital.
But the deal has been a long time in coming and did not come without some anxious moments. The pressure was on the EDA to come up with plans for water and sewer and to find a way to resolve the road and buffer issues. Thanks to the work of the county and the Meldrim area residents, a plan now exists that satisfies nearly everyone involved.
Also, the EDA could be close to landing exactly what it’s been looking for to go at its property fronting Highway 21 at the existing industrial park. A maker of electrical components is looking for a home and a headquarters in the U.S. and has its sights set on Effingham County. The jobs and wages associated with the unnamed firm — such deals are negotiated confidentially until they are completed — could be astronomical.
The EDA, under Chief Executive Officer John Henry, has been upfront about its intentions and open with the public about its plans. And as much as Henry would like to land the prospect for the Highway 21 tract, he also said he doesn’t “want to give away the store.”
Today, nearly two-thirds of Effingham County’s working residents go out of the county for jobs. However, if the EDA’s partnership with DP Partners and its bid to land another significant employer come to their expected fruition, that could change drastically, as could the reliance upon individual homeowners’ property taxes to fund local government operations.
Hopefully, this is just the beginning for the EDA and a new age in Effingham’s prosperity.