CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - The search is on for a new industry to come to a more than 700-acre site off I-16.
Leaders of the Savannah Economic Development Authority shared their expectations for what's being called the Savannah Manufacturing Center with Savannah City Council members last week.
"We expect to have 24-million square feet of pad-ready sites completed by the end of next year," said Steve Green, SEDA, Chairman.
The Savannah Economic Development Authority is looking to meet the need for growing industries and bought a more than 700-acre plot of land close to I-16 a year ago using a combination of their own funds and SPLOST dollars.
The marketing effort to find potential business to occupy parcels on the land officially kicked off last week. SEDA's chairman says the location of the future Savannah Manufacturing Center makes it a prime spot for top-tier manufacturing companies.
"As those contracts get executed, we think we can bring a lot of those high-paying manufacturing jobs to the Chatham County area," Green said.
Right next door to the future site of the Savannah Manufacturing Center and just over the county line in Effingham County is PortFresh Logistics.
"We think this site is where the future development of the Port is going to be. One, there's less congestion. Two, there's room to expand, and most importantly, we have a great labor force out here," said Brian Kastick, CEO, PortFresh Logistics. "By moving a little further west, I think SEDA will find the same things we found: good access to labor, good access to logistics, and room to expand without some of the congestion issues you have closer to the Port."
PortFresh CEO Brian Kastick says he believes SEDA and the businesses they court will find the same advantages.
"Oh, this is the biggest thing to happen on this side of Effingham County," said Craig Van, who lives off Old River Road.
In his family for generations, Craig Van's property butts right up to all of the industrial development. He says any issues that have come up because of the growth, he's been able to work out directly with PortFresh.
"What we might have to look at is more traffic, and how we're going to control it as far as lights go because there's a tremendous amount of trucks now," Van said.
The Department of Transportation does have a $9.3 million expansion and widening project for the Old River Road, I-16 intersection in the pipeline that's expected to begin in 2019. That's right about the time construction in the Savannah Manufacturing Center is supposed to begin.
A groundbreaking for the Manufacturing Center should be taking place by the first of next year.