Grant & Loan Awards: Ware County
EDGE grant funds of $342,743 will be used to assist with rail improvements to support the location of Georgia Biomass, LLC (GBL), a new fuel pellet manufacturing facility. The Company will construct the new plant on a 315-acre site in the Waycross-Ware County Industrial Park where it will produce 750,000 tons of fuel pellets annually. The pellets will be shipped by rail from the Waycross facility to the Savannah port and then on to Europe for use by RWE AG, its German parent company. RWE AG is the leading power producer in Germany as well as several other markets in Europe and growing in others. Indirect economic impact includes procurement contracts with growers of southern pine across a 25-county area region of South Georgia, and continued job growth for both logging and trucking businesses. This project appears to be an opportunity to capitalize on two of Georgia’s major assets: biomass availability and the Savannah port. This is also an opportunity for Georgia to take a leading position in the growing renewable energy market that is set to take a major presence in the world economy.
BRIDGE funds to assist with the cost of a TechSmart feasibility study to determine needs, assets, limitations and costs of providing wireless broadband to underserved areas of Ware County. The project's scope includes the entire County, where low-cost broadband service is currently unavailable; and the City of Waycross was chosen to be the applicant because it has the resources needed to administer a OneGeorgia grant. TechSmart's proposal includes a work plan focusing on product control, increased revenue for businesses and the identification of new revenue sources. Letters of support from Ware County and Southeast Georgia RDC confirm the project's county-wide scope where low-cost broadband service is currently unavailable.
EDGE funds to purchase telecommunications equipment, specifically, the hardware and software components of the auto dialer system, in support of the location of Enhanced Recovery Corporation (ERC), a call center. ERC has two call centers operating in Jacksonville, Florida and the Caribbean. The Company will expand its operations by locating a call center to the city of Waycross, utilizing a vacant Winn Dixie building. ERC is in the business of collecting bad debt and currently provides its services to Wells Fargo, Chase, Suntrust, BMW, Nordstrom and many other notable companies. ERC will employ 300 persons within 24 months and make a $5 million private investment which includes building acqusition, renovation and equipment purchases. The project is in competition with Florida.
Equity funds to assist with the renovation of the historic Phoenix Hotel located in downtown Waycross. Upon completion, the hotel will be anchored by a corporate tenant, an existing Ware County company, in addition to new retail, restaurant and office space. Beef O'Brady's, a sports pub and restaurant has committed to locating in the hotel and has a draft lease agreement in place. The hotel is expected to be a significant catalyst in spurring downtown economic activity by bringing over 120 jobs (80 existing 40 new) to the downtown area upon completion.
EDGE funds to assist with the construction of a 215,000 SF manufacturing/distribution facility for Simmons Manufacturing Co, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Simmons Company. Simmons is the second largest bedding manufacturer in the United States. Waycross, Ware County is in competition with Florida. The project will create 200 new jobs.
EDGE funds to purchase all properties necessary to complete the renovation of the Phoenix Hotel as well as paying for a portion of the construction. The Phoenix Hotel renovation project is a vital component in the Redevelopment of Waycross. This structure, once fully renovated, will serve as a Corporate Headquarters Building for an existing local company housing 80 â€“ 100 employees.
EDGE funds to construct a 75,000 square foot van conversion manufacturing facility. Sherrod Vans would enter into a 20-year lease with the Waycross-Ware County Development Authority. This project will result in approximately 150 full-time employees.
EDGE funds to purchase equipment to lease to Sea-Pak introducing a new food line in the Waycross-Ware County Industrial Park. The project will create 55 new jobs.
Equity funds for feasibility study to assess renovation of Phoenix Hotel for use as corporate headquarters of an area company. Renovation is seen as a vital component in the redevelopment of downtown.