Plans are being finalized, and ground could be broken in as soon as three months on the Development Authority of Columbia County's second speculative building, an authority official said after Wednesday's meeting.
The building, a 50,000-square-foot structure designed to attract a light- to medium-industrial tenant, is scheduled for a parcel in Horizon South Industrial Park off Wrightsboro Road near Interstate 20 in Grovetown, said Zack Daffin, the authority's executive director.
The structure is basically a shell with four walls, a roof and a completed or partially completed slab floor, and is expected to cost between $1.2 million and $1.5 million, Daffin said.
"This deal does not require any local, public cash infusion," Daffin said. The authority has secured a state grant for $140,566 and an interest-free federal loan for $450,000, with the remainder financed through private investment, he said.
Daffin declined to name the private investor until a formal agreement is signed.
The authority has 10 years to pay the federal loan and two years before the first monthly installment of just more than $4,600 is due, Daffin said.
"Theoretically, we could have a tenant for this building before we ever start paying the principle for that loan," Daffin said. "In addition to that, if the principle is paid back once the tenant is located, the development authority basically gets the dollars that it has injected into the project back,"where it could then be used for other projects.
The development authority's first speculative building was a 128,000-square-foot structure that remained empty for about five years until filled by John Deere.
"We think there is an ample and good market for this (smaller) size facility, and it gets us involved in many of the projects that might be forthcoming because of the size of this facility," Daffin said.
The authority also is considering the potential for additional speculative buildings in its long-range planning, he said.
In other business, the authority's marketing manager, David Shellhorse, unveiled a Web site that will be launched to highlight the business, educational, health care and lifestyle climates of the county in hopes of wooing new industry.
"It's very difficult from a production standpoint to compete with India and China because of their low cost of production," Shellhorse said, "but what we do want to sell is the community and the people.
"We have a very well-qualified and educated workforce," he said.
Shellhorse said the key selling points are Columbia County's low unemployment rates, booming growth, access to leading hospitals, proximity to major transportation outlets such as interstates and airports, and Money Magazine's ranking of Evans as the 32nd-best place to live in the United States.
The Web site also will feature parcels available for industrial development, information about state corporate income taxes and incentives and county property taxes, Shellhorse said.
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