The Board of the Camden County Joint Development Authority (JDA) issued a report informing the public of the progress of the current economic projects for the community last Wednesday.
As a public entity, the JDA does not start companies or expand them. JDA’s job is to create an environment that encourages private sector industry to invest in Camden County. It identifies sites suitable for development, works with local municipalities and institutions to put infrastructure and workforce in place and then markets those sites to prospects.
JDA helps new business take advantage of loan program –
The JDA was instrumental in helping fill a vacant warehouse by recruiting a food processing company, Foodie-J Eggrolls, to taking on incentives unique to Camden County. The JDA assisted the owners of Foodie-J Eggrolls by working with South Georgia Alliance to set up a revolving loan along with the Foodie-J’s own investment. According to the JDA, Camden County is the only county in the region to take advantage of the program. The company anticipates hiring 15 workers to begin distributing their product in February of this year.
Main projects –
Epic Adventure Park –
The Epic Adventure Park, designed for sports tourism, will feature state of the art tournament facilities to accommodate the growing popularity of travel teams that will attract young players, parents and fans from across the country. When completed the project is expected to create approximately 1300 jobs in the hospitality industry.
The JDA was a key resource and catalyst to the project working with the City of Kingsland for the past two years. One of the roles of an Authority is to issue specific bonds on this type of development designed to create jobs and generate community revenue. In 2018, the Authority is expected to issue bonds for construction of the indoor and outdoor sports field as well as the Expo Center. These will be the revenue drivers for the facility that create the business case for the remainder of the development.
According to the JDA, the bonds will be purchased by private investors and repaid with revenues generated on-site meaning there will be no burden on the citizens of Camden County.
St. Marys Marine Center –
After 15 years of discussing what to do with the Old Mill Site property, the JDA and the City of St. Marys, plan to take 50 acres and repurpose it for a marine center. The St. Marys Marine Center is planned to include a marina, boat repair and haul out services, marine-related businesses, retail, restaurant and residential units. The huge project has many environmental and permitting hurdles to clear before the first spade of dirt is turned, but the Authority is committed to making it happen. The Authority will partner with the city of St. Marys and a private developer to create a Marine Center that will be a true destination for those traveling by water or highway and one that can be enjoyed by locals as well.
In 2018 the Center will be a top priority for the Authority as it will work with the city and the state legislature to create a Community Improvement District (CID) for the site and help the city harness Tax Allocation District (TAD) dollars to build the marina. That will allow taxes generated by the private development to pay for the public aspects of the project without placing any additional burden on the taxpayers of St. Marys or the County.
The JDA will continue to work through the permitting process with local, state, and federal officials. In addition, more work is expected to help secure The St. Marys Marine Center to bring roughly 50 high quality paying jobs will be created in the boatyard section with another 100 plus jobs in related commerce.
Coastal Pines Technical College –
For the past eight years, the Joint Development Authority has advocated for a full-time technical college in Camden. Working with local government officials, civic organizations, educational leaders, and engaged citizens, the Authority received word in September 2017 that the Commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia included funding for construction of the campus in the Governor’s 2018 budget recommendation.
The 27 acres for the Kingsland campus was donated by the Gross family and the state has already spent more than a million dollars for design and engineering. Camden County’s Atlanta delegation has worked to secure funding for design construction costs. Last week, Governor Nathan Deal submitted his budget which includes $17.7 million dollars for construction of the technical college campus. The JDA recognizes the importance of the college to train welders, engineering techs, and other certified workers to fill current and prospective industry needs. A trained workforce is one of the primary concerns for commerce looking to locate or relocate to Camden County.
Other projects –
Kingsland Commerce ready for Industrial Development –
Working with Rayonier Timber the past two years, the Joint Development Authority invested in engineering studies for delivery of water and sewer to a 1,300-acre tract of land west of Hwy 17 to ready the property for industrial development. The site has easy access to I-95 and plenty of wetlands delineated space for medium to large projects. Rayonier stands ready to partner with the Authority when potential users are identified in 2018.
The JDA looks to find properties in the Woodbine area suitable and large enough to interest site selectors. JDA says desirable properties need to be fairly large with water and sewer access while having little impact on wetlands. The JDA encourages private property owners who have large tracts of land to contact the JDA if interested in assisting with development in the area.
St. Marys Airport considered new 278-acre site ready for development in 2018
The St. Marys Innovation & Commerce Park includes the 278 acres, formerly occupied by the airport, will be available for development. The JDA will take a lead role in working with the city to market the property. Working within guidelines established by the Department of Defense, the Authority can identify the most appropriate opportunities for this valuable site with infrastructure already in place.
Information provided by Camden County JDA – edited for length from the original version.