JDA million

JDA presents Morgan County officials with a $1,042,500 check, the county’s 15-percent share of the profits from a $37 million land sale in Stanton Springs. County Commissioner Chairman Philipp von Hanstein holds the check with Shane Short, executive director of the Development Authority of Walton County. Commissioner Andy Ainslie, Serra P. Hall, vice president of project development with the Newton County Industrial Development Authority, and the Madison-Morgan Chamber of Commerce President Bob Hughes stand alongside in celebration.

It’s taken 20 years, but Morgan County has finally made back its investment into Stanton Springs Industrial Park. The Morgan County Board of Commissioners was presented with a $1 million-plus check by the Joint Develop Authority (JDA), the four-county board tasked with overseeing the development of Stanton Springs Industrial Park, during Tuesday’s regular meeting.

“This makes Morgan County whole in its investment,” said Shane Short, director of economic development for Walton County.

The $1,042,500 check is Morgan County’s 15-percent share of the JDA’s recent land sale to a mystery multi-billion dollar company using the pseudonym “Baymare LLC.” However, the company’s true identity has been widely reported to be Facebook, but local officials have declined to confirm this until Gov. Brian Kemp makes the reveal announcement later this month.

Baymare LLC purchased 612 acres in Stanton Springs, the vast majority of remaining developable land in the park, for nearly $37.5 million for the purpose of developing new data centers. Stanton Springs Industrial Park is a project 20 years in the making to bring medical and technological industries into the region. The industrial park, located at the intersection between I-20 and Highway 278, currently houses several high-profile developments, including Takeda’s $1.2 billion biopharmaceutical plant, a $14 million Bioscience Training Center and a $750,000 Facebook data center, which will undergo future phases of development over the next two decades that could cost up to $42 billion.

In February, the Joint Development Authority (JDA), a four-county board comprised of Morgan, Jasper, Walton and Newton Counties tasked with overseeing Stanton Springs Industrial Park, approved a second bond issuance in the amount of $42 billion for “Baymare.” The newest project from “Baymare” will be the first at Stanton Springs to be located completely in Morgan County.

But the JDA isn’t through yet. The JDA is taking most of the proceeds from the land sale to Baymare and purchasing more than 600 acres of land on the northside of Stanton Springs to develop. More than 100 acres of the new land lies in Morgan County. The remaining proceeds were divided up between the four counties according to their percentage shares.

“It’s exciting as we move north to continue our project,” County Commissioner Andy Ainslie, who also sits on the JDA. “We are looking to attract high-tech industries, pharmaceutical industries, and green industries to Stanton Springs and of course, to create even more long-term, good-paying jobs for the four counties.”

Madison-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce President Bob Hughes praised the JDA and new expansion of the park made possible by the new land purchase.

“This is a regional project with regional cooperation,” said Hughes. “Stanton Springs is used as a shingling example to other counties in Georgia who want to build the same type of relationships across counties and partnerships for development.”

Now that Morgan County has made back its initial investment from the late 1990s, when Stanton Springs was first established, local leaders are looking forward to reaping the long-term profits as tax money from the park comes down the pipeline.

“Everything has been very positive, even though it has taken two decades to get here,” said Ainslie. “We have generated about 2,000 jobs, brought in multibillion companies to the region, and secured future tax revenues for the four counties.”

Morgan County owns a 15-percent share in Stanton Springs, while Walton and Newton counties each own a 37.5-percent share, and Jasper owns a 10-percent share.

According to Short, during the next 20 years, Facebook will make $88 million in annual payments, even if all the planned constructed buildings are completed or not. Those payments will be distributed between the four counties and each school system based on each entity’s invested shares in the industrial park.

Similarly, “Baymare,” will receive 20 years of tax abatements worth a minimum of $71 million under the new bond agreement. As reported in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, “In exchange, the company will make annual rent payments on the project, The 20-year abatement period starts by April 2027, or when the first phase of the project — a 900,000-square-foot building worth an estimated $750 million — is finished, according to the bond agreement. Each subsequent phase, estimated at $550 million, will include 400,000 square feet of additional data center space. Construction on those will trigger more tax cuts. If all phases of the project are completed, the tax break could total around $355 million, according to Shane Short, the executive director of the Walton County Development Authority.”

Facebook’s new project at Stanton Springs is expected to create a minimum of 300 jobs in addition to the 1,900 jobs created by the other industries in Stanton Springs Industrial Park, including Facebook’s first development, Takeda, and the Georgia BioScience Center.

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