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Pooler plant could help Liberty economy
1004Ronald Tolley
Ron Tolley - photo by Courier file photo
Community leaders are expressing optimism and excitement following Monday’s announcement by Gov. Sonny Perdue that Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas Inc. will locate a manufacturing plant in Pooler.
The company will bring an estimated 500 jobs and plans to invest $325 million in its newest facility, according to the Associated Press. Mitsubishi will manufacture and service turbines used by power plants to generate electricity, according to the AP.
The state bought the “megasite” at the intersection of Interstates 95 and 16 for $23 million seven years ago, in an effort to persuade DaimlerChrysler to build a plant there. The agreement did not hold up and an estimated 3,000 jobs never materialized.
Ron Tolley, CEO of the Liberty County Development Authority, said when a high caliber company such as Mitsubishi locates in Savannah it also bodes well for surrounding communities, including Liberty County.
“We always try to work with the state any time there’s a major project, to see if there’s auxiliary entities that might be interested in moving to the same general area as the plant,” Tolley said.
He said Liberty County has several locations where additional businesses could relocate and have easy access to the Savannah Airport, the Port of Savannah and to the megasite in Pooler.
He listed Hinesville Technology Park off Airport Road, Trade Port West south of Midway and Trade Port East currently under construction on I-95.
“It (the Mitsubishi plant) will make a regional impact,” said Josh Fenn, Bryan County Development Authority executive director. “Any time an industry locates in our area it’s a benefit for metro Savannah. We’ve got vendors that will do business with that plant, we have unemployed citizens that will get jobs at the plant and there are people associated with the plant who will move to and live in Bryan County.”
Fenn said “a big name company” such as Mitsubishi deciding to relocate to metro Savannah illustrates the company’s confidence in the region, especially in a struggling economy. 
Ted Akins, Bryan County Development Authority chairman, said Bryan County’s proximity to Pooler — a 15-minute drive from the mega site — should help bring additional businesses to the authority’s Interstate Centre.
“We’re going to work extremely hard to do that,” Akins said. “We’re happy to have someone at the site, particularly in these bad economic times.”
Akins said there is plenty of available space for auxiliary businesses to locate at the centre in north Bryan County.
“We have a 600,500 square foot crossdock facility that’s available now with our partner TPA Realty Services from Atlanta,” he said. “We probably have another 500 acres available to put other businesses on our site. And we produced about 500 jobs there in about three and a half to four years. We’d like to continue that growth.”
Akins said the authority is open to both manufacturers and distribution companies.
“We are constantly looking for businesses to come to our park. We certainly want clean businesses,” he said.
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