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April 30, 2014

Development Authority previews renovated city economic center

MILLEDGEVILLE — April’s regular Development Authority of the City of Milledgeville and Baldwin County meeting previewed the Economic Development Center in downtown’s renovated Elks Lodge.

The authority examined development progress inside the spacious second floor conference room Monday. The three-story city owned building adjacent to City Hall on Hancock Street has the “one stop shop” tab.

According to city management, departments such as Planning and Zoning, Human Resources and Downtown Development offices presently housed at the City of Milledgeville Annex Building, located at 127 E. Hancock St., will start moving into the rehabilitated building next week.

Try, try again for industry recruitment

A German manufacturer with 300 jobs in tow took a hard look at Baldwin County but decided to go elsewhere.

“We made their short list down to three communities left. Two of us got cut in Georgia,” Development Authority Executive Director Matt Poyner said.

The project went to South Carolina.

The industry consultant “fell in love with Milledgeville,” even though the German company didn’t commit.

He promised Poyner other projects would come this way. A German automotive supplier came searching in Baldwin County as a result.

This “Tier 3” supplier would receive workable raw land within the industrial park and qualify for the new tax abatement schedule.

The Development Authority is “on the short list” for a project demanding rail siding and high capacity water and sewer capabilities.

“I want to thank the city’s water and sewer department for being a huge component of this,” Poyner said. “If we win this project, it will be because of the water and sewer. Things are moving forward.”

The project, which can’t be named specifically due to strict industry privacy, includes a more than $100 million investment and 200 jobs.

Norfolk Southern’s evaluation of the rail setup at the old Rheem facility is part of this recruitment. Currently, trees and debris have overcome part of the rail lines.

“We are also going to need some massive storage on site because this is a massive rail user,” Poyner said. “I told Norfolk Southern about it. They are willing to put money in the project too. We have different people partnering with us, which obviously helps close the deal.”

The Development Authority will incorporate rail into long term strategic planning.

“That’s where things are headed,” Poyner said.

Purchasing additional industrial park acres

Poyner said the group wants to acquire an extra 8.19 acres for the park.

Baldwin County will hopefully release the property back to the Georgia Forestry Commission. The state land is currently leased to Little Fishing Creek Golf Course.

“We are working that out, and I hope at the next county commissioners’ meeting they will vote to approve,” Poyner said Monday.

Web traffic numbers rising

Activity on the Development Authority’s website is at an all time high, according to the executive director.

The site has more than 1,700 hits this year.

“We are trending higher than we were last year,” Poyner said.

The Middle Georgia Regional Commission wants to use the local authority’s site as a test for technology expansion.

Poyner said the website would soon feature something not seen in state or possible nationally.

“The commission would like to use our website in a national competition. They felt they could win based on what we are providing,” he said. “That’s exciting to know that we are on the cutting edge.”

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