Nuclear technology, military continue to drive regional economy, municipal leaders say

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NORTH AUGUSTA — Eco­nomic strongholds in military intelligence and nuclear technology will lead the Augusta area into a bright future, capitalizing on existing business and attracting future growth, community leaders said Thursday night.

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Edgefield County Council Chairman Dean Campbell (left) and Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver take part in the 2012 State of the Region meeting in North Augusta.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Edgefield County Council Chairman Dean Campbell (left) and Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver take part in the 2012 State of the Region meeting in North Augusta.

Several municipalities focused on the area’s main economic engines, including Fort Gordon, Savannah River Site and Plant Vogtle, at the State of the Region forum in North Augusta, sponsored by chambers of commerce of Augusta, North Augusta, Aiken and Columbia County.

Fred Dohse, the executive vice president and chief operating officer of Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, said SRS is positioned to develop nuclear technologies that aid national security. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 forced considerable change that helped reduce nuclear materials and radioactive waste, said Dohse, the event’s keynote speaker.

“We have the capabilities to solve some of our nation’s unresolved issues,” he said. “Our ability to innovate and create lasting nuclear technology solutions is a true testament to the workforce at the site and a legacy to the site veterans and those who work out there today.”

In 2011, the economic impact of SRS to the Augusta area was $1.42 billion. Stimulus money supported thousands of jobs that allowed 10 years of work to be completed in 30 months, Dohse said.

The region needs to stand behind its economic engines and attract more investment, Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver said.

“I think we’re all getting the message that when we work together things improve quickly,” Copenhaver said.

Other leaders emphasized their municipalities’ contributions to the regional economy.

North Augusta Mayor Lark Jones said new restaurants and stores are stimulating the city’s economy. Over the next seven years, a capital project sales tax will be used for new public safety buildings, parks and road improvements, Jones said.

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Little Lamb
Little Lamb 10/19/12 - 10:44 am

Wipe that silly, smirky grin off your face, Mayor, and sit down across the table from Paul Simon and begin negotiating a TEE Center management deal that is better for the citizens of Augusta.

Riverman1 10/20/12 - 06:42 am

Deke’s all right when he has to go to one of these events where he throws out a few clichés. It’s when he has to deal with strong people that he’s a little wanting.

I believe if SRS said they wanted to take the land where Augusta sits, as happened to Ellenton, SC when SRS was created, Deke would say something like, it’s a done deal and we have to move on to more important matters.

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