More than two-thirds of the industry in Liberty County is the result of foreign investment, Development Authority CEO Ron Tolley told chamber of commerce members Thursday.
He gave an overview of the authority’s past year during the Liberty County Chamber January Progress Through People Luncheon at the Liberty County Performing Arts Center.
Tolley opened by asking chamber members to guess the percentage of foreign-direct investment in Liberty County.
“A little over 70 percent comes from overseas investment,” he said.
Foreign investors, whose companies do business here, are headquartered in Lebanon, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Korea, according to Tolley.
The authority CEO touched on the recent expansion of several companies and spoke about Tradeport East Business Center newcomer Pactra/Hankook, a Korean company that has established a Southeast distribution center for Hankook Tire and created about 50 jobs.
Tolley said when chemical manufacturer SNF, arrived in Liberty County in the late 1980s, the French company employed 30 employees.
“They had 1,300 employees last year and are heading toward 1,400,” he said.
Midway Industrial Park tenant Floquip Engineering Co., which comes under the SNF umbrella, acquired an 80,000-square-foot building and should double its workforce from 50 to 100 workers in the next several years, Tolley said.
Firth Rixson, a British company, also expanded last year, Tolley said. The company began with 75-100 workers and should increase its workforce to about 300, according to the LCDA website. Firth Rixson’s 200,000-square-foot foundry has the capability to expand by 20 percent, Tolley said.
The authority CEO also mentioned a number of infrastructure projects to benefit the authority’s current and future tenants.
A 9.8-mile high-pressure gas line will be installed this fall to serve Tradeport East, he said. Tolley credited Anna Chafin, the authority’s former director of marketing and research, for setting this project in motion. Chafin was hired as the chief executive officer of the Development Authority of Bryan County in October.
Tolley added that last year the Georgia Transmission Corp. put in a 115-kilovolt transmission line from the Burnt Church substation in Bryan County to Tradeport East near Midway.
The CEO touted a number of rankings Liberty County has received from business publications, including being named by Southern Business & Development as one of the top 10 places in the South to hire military veterans and civilian personnel, and as an example of economic development that’s working in the South. Beyond.com named Liberty County one of the 10 easiest places to hire employees, and NerdWallet.com dubbed the county one of the best 10 places in Georgia for job seekers, according to Tolley.
He also mentioned accolades bestowed on local manufacturers and companies.
Elan Technology took part in a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study and SNF was named the 2013 international business of the year by the World Trade Center Savannah last fall.
Tolley also spoke about the partnerships between sectors of the Liberty County community, including manufacturers partnering with Savannah Technical College to create two-year apprenticeships for students while they are enrolled in classes, Tolley said.
Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette, who serves on the authority and Savannah Tech’s board, informed chamber members that local high school students can dual enroll at the technical college, thereby helping their parents save on tuition.
Tolley said the authority and Savannah Tech also have reached out to Fort Stewart’s Army Career and Alumni Program, so transitioning soldiers can be informed about career opportunities. In addition, the authority is conducting a survey of workforce needs and goals, as it relates to soldiers separating from the service.