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May 16, 2014

Poyner: Development Authority ‘aggressive’

MILLEDGEVILLE — The recent Milledgeville City Council update provided a peek into industrial development. The office is hustling.

“Guys we are busy with big, real projects,” Executive Director of the Development Authority of Milledgeville-Baldwin County Matt Poyner said. “As of now, we’ve been delivered seven projects from the state of Georgia. This time last year we had two.”

This week the authority hosted sight consultants for a German automobile manufacturer.

“When people come to the community, they are excited about it,” Poyner said. “We are able to get in front and show them what we have. We are to that point where we are being aggressive because we’ve got the resources, the workforce and the whole package to offer.”

The DA director mentioned “high-end developments that everyone would be ecstatic to have” looking at Highway 441 locations.

“There is a lot of activity happening up that corridor the next 18 months or so,” Poyner said.

City Manager Barry Jarrett asked Poyner why the community was losing projects to states like South Carolina or Alabama.

“It comes down to the right building, piece of land, location and workforce,” Poyner said. “We have good marks, but we can only do so much.”

Georgia’s job creation and investment formula varies from adjacent competitors.

“If it’s a big project, (the state) will throw in a bunch of money and do what they can,” the authority director said. “We’ve never been in those discussions until recently.”

Mayor Richard Bentley said “other amenities” overcome Milledgeville’s lack of interstate access.

Poyner said revamped rail options could be advantageous though that will take time.

“It’s not so much the rail system itself, it’s the available property on the rail,” he said. “We have no rail siding sites in Milledgeville and Baldwin County except for the Rheem building.”

For example, Rome, Ga. spent $8 million purchasing rail system land.

“They are doing some things we should be talking about ourselves,” Poyner told City Council.

One active industrial project is a big rail user. Apparently, Norfolk Southern would help with funding.

CSX wants to abandon an old line behind the industrial park. That line runs beside Rheem and ties into Norfolk Southern.

The CSX rail then travels to Camak, while the other goes to the port.

“It might be something that we could use,” Bentley said. “That’s something we are concerned about and working to find progress on.”

Poyner spoke with existing industries to see if “they want to reenergize that line to ship by rail versus truck.”

Also, streetscape design around the industrial park corridor would increase the community profile.

“If we have companies come in and see this stuff looking ratty, they’ll think we might not be able to take care of their business,” he said. “We are looking at ways to beautify the area and put in walking trails. Most of these foreign companies have an active lifestyle living philosophy. We want to be a champion for that in the park.”

 

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