Tenants in the Tradeport East Business Center have each reported progress since finding a home in Liberty County and say they expect future success.
But there are still no plans to rent out the five dirt pads on the IDI property, only hopes to attract businesses by the end of the year, according to Sean Fitzsimmons, the National Business Development director.
“My hope for the coming year is that the economy improves and we are able to secure one or more great new employers for Liberty County,” Fitzsimmons said.
He said it usually takes two years for the real estate development firm to fully occupy inventory projects, but it ultimately depends on demand and the economy.
“It is probably fair to say, though, that the downturn in the economy has not helped,” he said. “It has given many companies...cold feet in making large investment decisions, like adding new distribution centers.”
The building pads allow a company to be up and running in 60 to 90 days, saving money and construction time, Fitzsimmons said.
Liberty County Development Authority CEO Ron Tolley said the authority would be “happy with whatever came there” because in order for any business to come it would have to follow certain set parameters.
“They work their various leads and we also provide them with any leads they generate to fit their kind of building,” Tolley said. “We work with one another so they don’t (bring) any duplication.”
When choosing facility sites, Fitzsimmons said light industry looks for locations that minimize transportation costs and has workforce potential.
Jenn Glass, spokesperson for the Target distribution center also in Tradeport, agreed.
“We chose an area for access to transportation and a workforce,” Glass said. “Being fully staffed shows we were able to do that.”
Target is one of the county’s top five employers, according to the state Labor Department.
Since Target set up its 1.5 million square foot distribution center in Midway last August, Tolley said, “It appears to be going alright.”
“They’ve certainly done what we’ve anticipated, as far as opening on the timetable we were looking at,” he said of Target. “As far as we know they have the employment they were looking for.”
With more than 500 workers, Glass said it has been a good first year and the company is happy to be part of the community.
“I think our greatest impact is employment,” she said.
Matt Edmonds, vice president of marketing for the Tire Rack, said it has provided better service since the Midway branch opened November 2006.
“It’s a good location to really serve the Southeast region of the United States,” Edmonds said.
He acknowledged “challenging economic times,” for the national company, but expects continued growth.
“At this point in time we don’t see any reason this would stop,” Edmonds said. “Business continues to grow.”
The Tire Rack is in a 10-year lease for $62,000 per year and Target’s 15-year lease is at $125,000 per year.
IDI will have purchased 300 acres by December 2009. It has already purchased close to 200 acres and is supposed to buy another 50 acres by this December, according to the agreement with LCDA.
The authority serves as a conduit with payments going to bondholders.
Industries will be responsible for property taxes after their leases are up.