What does an exit on the highway mean to you?
For Hardeeville and Jasper County, it could mean millions..even billions of dollars.
Exit 3 on Interstate 95 is now in the works.
It’s only two miles away from the current Hardeeville exit, but something that town and county officials believe could speed up economic progress and community growth.
“It’s huge for Hardeeville, Jasper County and really the whole Lowcountry region,” explains Hardeeville Deputy City Manager Matt Davis.
The proposal means Jasper County, the city of Hardeeville and developer SLF III will work together to fund the $82 million project. Which would build an exit off I-95 at Purrysburg road. All have entered into a memorandum of understanding involving the county, Hardeeville and SLF III.
The Texas-based company owns a 5000-acre tract that includes the Riverport Business Park.
“It’s just easier access to the land for development purposes, it’s that much closer to the Georgia line,” explains Matt Davis. “A lot of development we anticipate will be related in some fashion the Port of Savannah. They are kind of out land over there so they are looking on this side of the river.”
The public/private combination plan will ask the South Carolina State Infrastructure Bank for a $28 million grant and a $28 million loan. SLF III would match the amount of the $26 million grant.
The new exit would improve access to the future Jasper Ocean Terminal.
Hardeeville officials say big industrial companies have shown interest already.
The Jasper County Legislative Delegation believes the project could create 24-thousand jobs and have a $3 billion annual impact to the Lowcountry.
Another key component is the jobs and younger families that could find a new home in the area.
“There are thousands of acres of growth potential there,” said Matt Davis. “The jobs they can bring into the region are just phenomenal, right now we are seeing primarily retirees into Hardeeville for residential development. But this project is for families, good-paying jobs, we are really excited about that.”
Local officials are also excited because the rest of the County will not have to foot the bill for the project. The loan would be repaid through the property taxes collected within the “tax increment financing district” created near the exit.
SLF III would also pick up the rest of the bill if the tax money does not cover the amount of the loan.
While the project does not connect directly to the proposed Jasper Ocean Terminal. While the SC Ports Authority has pused back the potential timeline for the first phase to 2035, officials say this exit would have a direct effect on that project if and when it opens.
The final proposal on the Exit is due by August 1st. An announcement on which projects will get funding could happen by the end of the year.
State Senator Tom Davis told the Island Packet that construction could begin by the beginning of 2020, Hardeeville officials are more cautious. They tell News 3 that environmental and transportation studies will need to be completed before any exit can be finished. Davis believes a 5-year timetable is more realistic.