Mon, May 20, 2024

Running out of space for new industry?

Friday’s announcement that GF Casting Solutions will build a plant in the Augusta Corporate Park off Mike Padgett Highway creates a problem for the Augusta Economic Development Authority (AEDA).

This is an example that not all problems are bad.

GF Casting Solutions has contracted for 147 acres. This plant has pushed the park to near capacity.

“We have a 40-acre site and a 65-acre site available. Otherwise, the park is completely full,” AEDA President, Cal Wray told ABD.

Wray said they are actively looking for new industrial sites. He anticipates South Augusta will continue to be the destination for large manufacturing companies.

The park started with 1,800 acres of development space. It is already home to large manufacturing plants either open or under construction, including Starbucks and Aurubis Richmond LLC.

The future will bring Denkai America, the Japan-based manufacturer of high-quality electrodeposited copper foils for printed circuit board, industrial, and energy storage applications. In 2022, a groundbreaking was held for PureCycle Technologies, Inc., a Florida-based company that converts #5 plastic waste to a renewable resource, in the South Augusta location.

“I would say the majority of manufacturing will be in South Augusta. Offices will not be in South Augusta; I would say it would be more downtown Augusta. There may be some one-offs probably more like the Fort Eisenhower area. Hopefully, retail and commercial could go anywhere in the community,” Wray said.

Although the corporate park is nearing capacity, AEDA has sites dotted across Richmond County to offer potential businesses or investors. The authority’s “Site Selection” on its website lists 547 sites. Some are existing buildings, including several on Broad Street. There is also undeveloped land available ranging from under an acre to multiple acre tracts.

Although South Augusta has the most undeveloped land, Wray said there are challenges, particularly between the existing corporate park and the Burke County line.

“Even though there’s a lot of open land in South Augusta, you don’t always have the infrastructure and the utilities you need,” he said. “So, getting the right power, getting the right natural gas, getting sewer is a big impediment. We’re working with Augusta Utilities now to find where, how do we expand sewer so you can have more homes on sewer, you can have manufacturing on sewer, you can have commercial and retail on sewer versus septic.”

Although GF Casting Solutions is committed to 147 acres, not all of it will be developed.

“They are taking a large area of wetlands because they want to control it, maintain it, continue to beautify it, and protect it. So, their usable acreage is around 73 acres,” said Wray. “They’re looking at potentially walking trails and the maintenance of it so it doesn’t get overgrown so they can help make sure it’s a beautiful area that their employees can enjoy.”

AEDA collaborates with the Georgia Department of Economic Development to market the corporate park. It is a certified Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development (GRAD) Certified Park, one of 60 such locations in the state. Completing the GRAD certification program is a proactive way for both community planners and landowners to help economic growth and industrial development for the regions they serve.

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