From Highway 21 near the intersection of old Augusta Road, the bare land doesn’t look like much.
But if you heard the words of some enthusiastic folks that gathered under a white tent for a groundbreaking Tuesday morning, you would envision what is expected to be a huge industrial park.
Developers say the site will host a warehouse and manufacturing space as well as a rail line to the Georgia Ports Garden City terminal.
“A year and a half of work has culminated into today which is a landmark day for Effingham County and Savannah,“ said Chance Raehn, senior vice president for development of Chesterfield.
Chesterfield is a private company that will make plans for the large industrial park come to life.
Known as the Georgia International Trade Center, the project is promising thousands of feet of warehouse space as well as space for manufacturers that may want to locate here.
“So this park will have up to 7.2 million square feet of manufacturing and distribution space and with that, it could bring hundreds, even possibly thousands of jobs to the community,“ said Raehn.
That promise of jobs is exciting to local leaders like Brant Herndon, the CEO of the Effingham County Industrial Development Authority.
“There is a perfect opportunity here as this is so close to the Port,“ he told News 3.
The distance to the Garden City Terminal is about ten miles.
“This is a huge deal, it’s a part of that overall strategy to attract new customers and help current customers grow,“ said Stacy Watson, the General Manager of Economic Industrial Development for the Georgia Ports Authority.
Watson says over the next decade, the capacity of the Port is expected to possibly double. He says that’s why the development of the new industrial park is vital.
“We’ve got to have the infrastructure outside the terminal to actually support the investment (in the Ports) and the growth we expect at the Garden City terminal,” he said.
Herndon believes it means good things for Effingham County residents.
“You’re seeing more hiring when it comes to warehouses, and we’re seeing more employees when it comes to E-commerce opportunities,” he said. ” So that’s what we’re trying to do is create jobs and distribution centers are a good source of jobs.“
The proximity continues to play a major factor.
“We’re probably about ten miles away from Garden City right here and no other port in the nation has as much available industrial land as close to a major container terminal as we do here in the Savannah community,” said Watson.
We’re told two large spec buildings will be constructed as soon as possible.
“It means jobs, it means capital investment, it means a better quality of life for Effingham County,“ said Watson.
Raehn told News 3 that while the groundbreaking signals construction is beginning, it will be a long haul. He says the project may not be completed for up to four years.
Chesterfield is working with Stonemont Financial Group to build the project with an expected price tag of several hundred million dollars.
In the end, however, Raehn and a host of local leaders say the results will be worth it.