Originally created 05/17/02

Industrial park seeks factory



The Augusta Corporate Park is on the short list of a company interested in building a $70 million factory that would create 1,000 jobs.

Augusta's southside industrial park is competing against six sites in the Carolinas for the undisclosed company's 450,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, said Bryan Quinsey, the executive director of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce.

During a report to the Development Authority of Richmond County on Thursday, Mr. Quinsey said the Augusta Corporate Park is a strong candidate for the proposed 130-acre development.

"The consultants believe Augusta will be one of the two final sites," said Mr. Quinsey, who also serves as interim economic developer for the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce. "They have compared every site to Augusta."

He said a decision could be made as early as June, but declined to give more specifics about the prospective company, which is code named Project Terra.

He said the chamber is receiving assistance on the project from the state Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism and the economic development division of Georgia Power Co.

The authority-owned Augusta Corporate Park is located on a recently widened section of Georgia Highway 56, also known as Mike Padgett Highway, near the Burke County line. The land has utilities and rail access but is otherwise undeveloped.

Economic developers speculate that if the company does locate at the 1,730-acre industrial park, the factory would occupy the northwestern corner, near the Horseshoe Road intersection. That section is the least hilly.

The Augusta Corporate Park property is the amalgam of separate land tracts donated in 1993 by Kimberly-Clark Corp. County officials have spent the past few years focusing on extending utility lines, harvesting timber and paving an entryway into the property.

There are no signs designating the property as an industrial park.

Authority member Terry Elam said the authority should move quickly on establishing a sign at the recently landscaped entrance. He said he has spoken with people who thought the property was an "upscale mobile home" park under development.

The closest that economic developers have come to hooking a tenant was in 1997 when South Korean fiber-maker Hankook Synthetics announced it would build a $1.2 billion polyester fiber plant. The project dissolved a year later after the Asian financial crisis.

It has been more than two years since Richmond County landed a major employer. The number of industrial prospects dwindled as the economy went into recession, but local economic developers point to Project Terra as evidence that activity might be picking up again.

"Augusta is back on the map," Mr. Quinsey said.

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3486 or dcline@augustachronicle.com.