Georgia reported near deal for giant economic development project

January 13, 2012

Economic Development

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is not revealing details but says the Peach State is in the “final stages of negotiating” what would be the biggest project since landing a Kia auto plant in West Point that now employs 3,000 people, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Friday.

One other state is in the running for the project as well, according to comments attributed to Deal. It’s doubtful that state is Mississippi, which former economic development chief Leland Speed says does not have a mega site that could accommodate a significantly large user.  Further, the state’s new constitutional ban on using eminent domain for private development projects would make it unlikely the state could rapidly assemble a mega site for a large user.

The Georgia governor made his comments at a gathering of the Georgia Press Association, but did not disclose what or where the project would be or specifically how many jobs it could entail, the newspaper said. His comments were recorded by a reporter with The Gainesville Times.

“We are currently in the final stages of negotiating what will hopefully be the largest business opportunity for the state of Georgia since Kia,” Deal said, according to Times reporter Ashley Fielding.

Deal indicated that Georgia is competing with at least one other state for the project, and “when it comes down to many of these very large business opportunities there are really sometimes only small differences that make the determination as to whether they come or don’t come.”

A spokeswoman with the Georgia Department of Economic Development declined to comment on any such project, the AJC reported.

Among the state’s most recent big projects:

* The 2009 announcement by NCR, an ATM and checkout machine maker, that it was bringing its corporate headquarters, a new plant, other operations and about 3,000 jobs to Duluth, Columbus and Peachtree City.

* The March 2006 announcement by Kia that it was coming to West Point, 75 miles southwest of Atlanta. The Korean automaker’s grand opening in Georgia was in February 2010. The plant recently completed a $100 million expansion.

State officials have been anxious to improve incentives to lure big projects and boost Georgia’s lagging economy while reducing the state’s 9.9 percent unemployment rate.

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