It’s been a “pretty good week” for the 4th Senatorial District. And, frankly, the news of the last week speaks well for our part of the state and rural Georgia. As metro Atlanta and north Georgia struggle with an economy-choking water shortage, new developments in rural south Georgia seem to be moving forward undeterred.
Last Monday, the governor announced the location of Portuguese company EFACEC to Effingham County to construct a $100 million plant to manufacture huge transformers for electrical grids. EFACEC is Portugal’s largest company and this plant will be the largest one of its kind in the world. EFACEC has yearly earnings of $500 million.
The plant, when fully operating, will create over 600 skilled jobs.
On the other end of the district in Soperton, the governor, along with the U.S. Secretary of Energy, presided over the groundbreaking last Tuesday of the nation’s first ethanol plant utilizing cellulose from pine tree scraps such as tops and limbs. This is a $200 million plant that will produce 20 million gallons of ethanol by the end of 2008 and provide about 60 jobs.
Range Fuels’ plan is to build 10 of these plants in Georgia utilizing the 18 million tons of scrap pine tree materials produced yearly in Georgia. Vinod Khosla, the billionaire financier backing the initiative, was fiery and adamant in his remarks about America becoming 100 percent energy independent and not just 1 percent or 5 percent.
The third positive event this week is the presentation by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle to Effingham schools for a $3.2 million grant to construct a new career academy high school.
This is part of Lt. Gov. Cagle’s initiative to join high schools and technical colleges to enable high school graduates to gain technical skills in high school and graduate with a high school diploma and a skill from a technical college.
Career academies in other parts of the state such as Dalton and Newnan have been extremely successful with a 90 percent-plus graduation rate.
This is not to say there are not outstanding projects and improvements in every county in the 4th District, but these announcements highlight the fact that our part of the state is progressing and frankly, lacks the obstacles to growth that may plague north Georgia in the future.
State Sen. Jack Hill