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IDA chief says county is getting a bang for its 2 mills
Value Per Acre Chart
Value per acre chart - photo by Submitted

Dear Editor,

I would like to take the opportunity to apologize to the citizens of Effingham County for not appearing at the public hearings held by the Effingham County Board of Commissioners last Tuesday. I had fully intended to appear. However, due to circumstances beyond my control I had to attend other meetings. Normally I would have cancelled every other engagement and placed full priority on being available for this meeting.

The IDA is staffed by two people who are available to work projects; the project manager, Ryan Moore and myself. I have tried to maintain a small staff and I fully participate in every project. As many of you know, we are currently working diligently to provide infrastructure to support the logistics park at Interstate 16 and we are working a very large manufacturing project that you will hopefully hear much more about in the very near future. It so happens that the private site selection consultant working for this manufacturer had planned to visit our site the same week as the public hearing. This is not something that was within our control.

In regards to comments from citizens questioning what the IDA has been doing over the past several years I would like to offer some information. In 2003, Effingham County was mandated to collect 2 mills from the tax digest for funding the IDA. The mission of the IDA is to expand the tax digest, create jobs in the county and create higher wages for the citizens of the county.

Expanding and diversifying the tax digest allows more of the taxation burden to be removed from the residents. This is best illustrated by analyzing the percentage of the tax digest that is derived from residential, commercial and industrial land uses.

By altering the ratio of industrial/commercial to residential the county is able to alleviate the portion of the total tax digest that is borne by the residents of the community. The only way to continue to reduce the proportionate share of the tax burden borne by the residents is to increase the number of commercial and industrial entities. The table below illustrates the values of land uses and increases in those values since 2003.

We see that the tax digest “Industrial Value Per Acre” has significantly increased since 2003 from nearly $12,000 per acre to over $70,000 per acre. Moreover, the percentage of the digest represented by industrial property has averaged an approximate 7 percent annual growth over the same period. That represents an additional $332,005,084 being added to the tax digest. In most communities that would have exponentially increased the proportion of the tax digest being borne by industry. The reason it has not is due to staggering growth rates in the amount of acreage being converted to residential uses.      

The chart below illustrates the value per acre growth in industrial and commercial properties. It also illustrates a decline in residential values per acre. In order to keep pace with a lessening digest value per acre of residential property, it requires diligent increases in industrial property.

However, industry for the sake of industry provides no advantage. The IDA is obligated to recruit and allow only the best industries with the best wages and capital investment rates to reside in the community. We now painstakingly analyze every prospect to insure the maximum economic benefit to the community as a whole. Economic and fiscal analysis of each project is imperative for us. The highest Net Present Value to the community is what we seek in every project. Also, we have had to learn to say no to projects that do not provide adequate rates of return.

We have had a wonderful couple of years, with some very big news coming in the future. I think that we can maintain the pace of digest expansion, private capital investment and job creation that we have had over the past several years. I actually believe that we will see tremendous increases in each of those over the next five to 10 years and beyond.

We have some great plans and have made some very lucrative investments for the future of Effingham. I am always happy to discuss these plans as we have some great partners, great existing industries and some great sites here in the county. We have our work cut out for us to continue to bring marketable property online, but it is a job that I love and hope to continue to be able to do here in this community.  

Once again, I apologize for failing to attend the meeting last Tuesday. I maintain an offer to every citizen in this community to call me or come by my office to discuss any concerns that they may have with anything that the IDA is involved.

I have promised to be open and accountable and will continue to do so. I thank each and every citizen of this community for continuing to have faith in our mission and for allowing me to work with you in making Effingham County the best county to work and live in the state of Georgia.

John Henry
Chief Executive Officer
Effingham County Economic Development Authority