Columbia County's Development Authority made it official Tuesday: John Deere will move into the speculative building in Horizon South Industrial Park in November.
In the meantime, more than $2 million in work is planned for the 128,000-square-foot building outside Grovetown.
"We continue to be excited about the long-term commitment that John Deere has made to Columbia County," Development Authority Chairman Ron Thigpen said in a prepared statement. "... We applaud them today for their investment in this building and wish them well as they continue to grow in Columbia County."
The company reportedly will use the building as warehouse space.
Authority members agreed Tuesday to issue $4.1 million in taxable industrial revenue bonds - money that will be used to pay off the existing bonds for the building and fund $2.3 million in site and building work.
The plan for the building involves allowing a consortium of local banks to act as a conduit for the development authority. The consortium will purchase the bonds, lease the building to John Deere for 10 years and then sell the building to the tractor company at the end of the lease.
The group of banks is a new approach for the authority. In the past, it has taken bids on bonds from various banks. The consortium concept eliminated the bidding war.
"At certain times, it is important to rally everyone for the good of the community," Mr. Thigpen said.
Development Authority member Mark Moseley - who was chairman of the group when construction of the spec building started in November 1997 - said the county actually beat projections with the sale.
"I think everybody forgets when we went into this we said, in Georgia, it takes about five years to sell a spec building," he said. "We're ahead of the curve."
Now the question is what to do next. County leaders are looking at economic development options, while some Development Authority members are hoping another speculative building is in their future.
A spec building, they say, is important because it places the county on a priority list with state economic development officials. That helps bring companies to the area, where officials can show them other sites. John Deere, for example, located in Columbia County after looking at a speculative building in Richmond County.
"I want to see us build another one," Mr. Moseley said. "It's just part of the business."
Reach Jason B. Smith at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 115 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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