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Liberty County Development Authority gives positive report
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Liberty County Development Authority CEO Ron Tolley (standing) speaks during the Progress Through People luncheon, hosted by the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce, at the Liberty County Performing Arts Center on Thursday. - photo by Photo by Cailtin Kenney

Liberty County Leaders and business owners gathered for the monthly Progress Through People luncheon Thursday, hosted by the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce.

Liberty County Development Authority CEO Ron Tolley gave a 2015 year-in-review presentation on his organization.

Attendees of the catered lunch at the Performing Arts Center heard about the current status of some of the industries in the county, including SNF Holding Co., Hugo Boss and Florapharm Tea USA.

SNF Floquip, which works in polymer preparation and feed systems and is located in the Midway Industrial Park, expanded the size of its facility in 2015.

“They went from an 80,000-square-foot facility to a 160,000-square-foot facility, a $7 million investment,” Tolley said. “The nice thing about these expansions is it’s the best indication you can ever receive as to whether the industries are happy with their location here in Liberty County.”

Tolley said the bulk of job growth in Georgia comes from companies expanding.

Hugo Boss renewed its lease. Tolley said that during the company’s renewal process, officials looked at other locations, but decided to stay in Liberty County. With this lease renewal, the building Hugo Boss currently uses will be paid for by the time its lease is up again, according to Tolley.

Florapharm Tea USA, which processes tea from all over the world, also renewed its lease.

LCDA was also given a superior marketing award from the Southern Economic Development Council for its Florapharm Tea Advent calendar, in which every calendar day revealed a different tea.

According to Tolley, LCDA officials had been using the calendar as a marketing approach when they met with project managers of different economic development organizations in Atlanta.

“The advantage of this to us — and why it went over so well with the state — is that we go up there prior to Advent and distribute this Advent calendar as, in essence, our Christmas gift,” he said. “We’re the only entity up there distributing gifts at that time. Everyone else in the state, they take their Christmas gifts up like the week before Christmas. … But we’re unique and we stand out that we get something to them all on our own.”

Southern Business and Development magazine named Liberty County among “Best of Georgia” for Best Small Market Aerospace Location and Best Industrial Sites Close to the Port of Savannah. The county was recommended by project managers and economic development site selection consultants during an economic development roundtable.

Going forward for 2016, Tolley touched on the need for future developments and infrastructure.

“We need another shell building in our county because shell buildings are great for marketing and recruitment purposes,” he said. “If you don’t have an available building, which is our situation right now — we’ve had a lot of success, all of our buildings are full — but that drops us down to only 20 percent of the people that look to Georgia to do a project because only 20 percent are looking just for the raw land.”

Tolley said the county was selected as one of the final two locations for Beretta but missed out because the county site the company looked at did not have a paved road readily available.

According to Tolley, Beretta officials told the state that paving the road for them was not an incentive to come because the other site being considered in Tennessee, which they eventually chose, already had a paved road.

“So that’ll happen with other projects. We don’t want it to, so hopefully we’ll find a way to get that road paved at some point,” Tolley said.

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