This Year--DaimlerChrysler Plant in Pooler

The Sprinter van.
The Sprinter van.
The plot near I-95 and I-16.
The plot near I-95 and I-16.

The biggest story of the year, and could get even bigger for years to come, is plans for a huge DaimlerChrysler plant in Pooler. It was on October 18 when Governor Roy Barnes made it official live on WTOC.

DaimlerChrysler will manufacture Sprinter vans, which will be used primarily in Europe by companies like UPS and Fed Ex. But until he knew for sure, Barnes and most other officials kept the talks with DaimlerChrysler very private. This is what Barnes told us in an earlier interview, just days before the announcement:

"That's not unusual in the whole course of things. We continue to have conversations with them. We've had some conversations today."

We talked to Chatham County Commissioner Dean Kicklighter on that same day. He told us he would love to see the Pooler community more developed.

"We're very close to I-95, I-16, the Georgia Ports Authority, the airport," Kicklighter said. "West Chatham County's the place to be. We'd love to see any and all large businesses come to the area because it will benefit the entire county economically."

And once the decision was official, local businesses owners, like Rosa Campbell, were very excited. She owns a new Italian restaurant in Pooler, and started expanding a few months back. With DaimlerChrysler coming to town, Campbell admits she'll probably need the extra space.

"We're expanding and that's why we're hoping it's going to do good for us," she said.

DaimlerChrysler is expected to bring 3,300 jobs with another 700 coming to the area related new businesses. Plus, businesses already here will get a big boost. The real estate industry, for example, is expected to change dramatically. All those new people in town will need a place to live.

"With our livelihood depending on people buying and selling homes, I think this might be a good thing," said Tracey Grassi of Coldwell Banker Reality.

One of the main factors in the big decision we're told was a plot of land located just off Interstate 16 and Interstate 95. Sources at the Savannah Economic Development Authority told WTOC the land was under construction specifically with a DaimlerChrysler plant in mind. Construction is expected to start by July 2003 with the first vans to roll off the line by 2005.

Join us as we count down the 11 biggest stories of the year on Saturday, December 28, at 9pm on WOTC-TV.

Reported by: Dmitra Denmark,