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Georgia, counties pay $61M for Bryan County industrial site

August 9, 2021 GMT

ELLABELL, Ga. (AP) — Georgia has paid $61 million for a sprawling southeast Georgia site that it hopes to use to lure a large manufacturer.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the purchase of more than 2,200 acres (890 hectares) from three separate sellers closed on July 27.

The state and the four-county Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Corridor Joint Development Authority had announced the purchase in May, but declined to say how much it had agreed to pay for the land in Bryan County.

The state paid in part with proceeds from the sale of another site in Chatham County to Amazon. Bryan and Chatham counties each put in $9 million and will be reimbursed later.

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Chatham, Bryan., Bulloch and Effingham counties are members of the authority. The authority owns the land, but will decide on a buyer along with the state.

“We are working with the state to develop some thresholds for jobs, wages, investments, that type of thing, in order to provide some focus on the types of projects we’ll pursue,” Anna Chafin of the Bryan County Development Authority told The Savannah Morning News.

Officials said in May that they don’t intend to split up the site, unlike previous sites in the region that were sold piecemeal.

Savannah Economic Development Authority CEO Trip Tollison told The Associated Press in May that the site would only be shown to big manufacturers such as car or plane makers.

Gov. Brian Kemp recently launched an effort to promote the electric vehicle industry in Georgia.

Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson said the site is worth the money because its flat terrain is easily buildable and because of road and rail access to the ports of Savannah and Brunswick. The site adjoins Interstate 16 near Ellabell.

Tollison said the site has already been surveyed. The authority says it has also obtained a draft permit for a developer to fill or alter wetlands.

The sellers are individuals or family-controlled corporations. Butler Tract LLC sold the largest portion, about 1,370 acres, for $25.2 million, according to the sales contract. Samwilka Inc., a family corporation, sold 841 acres for $31.4 million. William B. Mock of Ellabell sold 26 acres for $2.6 million.