Officials with Columbia County's Development Authority say several companies have recently expressed interest in moving to the county, potentially bringing hundreds of jobs with them.
Though he wouldn't divulge company names, citing ongoing negotiations, Development Authority Executive Director Zack Daffin said Wednesday during a strategic planning retreat that several manufacturers have looked at specific lots in the Horizon North and South industrial parks.
Authority members are in discussions with a company about a $30 million facility that would bring about 150 jobs to the area. Daffin declined to name the manufacturer or its products.
Daffin said an automotive parts manufacturer and a company seeking to build a new corporate headquarters and distribution center in Horizon North have expressed interest to the authority. Similarly, talks have been held about a 64,000-square-foot facility for an industrial tenant next to FirstCo Inc., on International Drive.
The intersection of Lewiston Road and Interstate 20 near the Horizon parks is of particular interest to county leaders, who recently approved a land-use study for the largely undeveloped 1,800-acre area.
County Administrator Steve Szablewski said the area could include a mix of retail, industrial, professional and residential development, in addition to a proposed entertainment arena.
Szablewski challenged authority board members to develop a business plan to attract companies to move to the area.
He also asked the authority to be proactive and inform county leaders when infrastructure improvements or other county initiatives could be used to lure companies to relocate to the area. He said the county is assembling its next special purpose local option sales tax proposal, which could be used to pay for such improvements.
"A lot of what we do is basically showcase the community to potential clients (to persuade them to move their businesses) while not stepping on the toes of the private sector," Daffin said of the authority.
Also at the meeting, officials announced Gail Duffie Stebbins as the winning bidder for the former Warren C. Gibbs Library site. Stebbins, granddaughter of the building's namesake and former county school board member, bid $900,000 for the building.
Gibbs Library opened in November 1982 and was named after the former county school board member as part of an agreement between the county and Warren Gibbs' stepson, who donated the land. The library closed in February 2006 and was replaced with a new library next to the Evans courthouse.
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