Why do MEAG Power communities that represent less than 10 percent of Georgia’s incorporated communities win nearly 25 percent of the statewide total business announcements, including newcomers and local expansions?1 The answer is simple. These communities are doing everything in their power to provide quality services and a quality of life that is attractive to everyone. They are winning new businesses such as the Google Training Academy in College Park as well as a Finnish technology company, Oilon USA, Inc. in Thomasville, and Korean Dongwon Autopart Technology in Hogansville. Plus, they are reaching out and supporting existing industries that are expanding locally: WestRock in Norcross and TCI Powder Coatings in Ellaville.
Fueling the wins is the fact that our communities shine when it comes to logistics; prime sites; skilled labor; development incentives; competitively priced, emissions-free electricity; and more.
Many MEAG Power communities offer direct access to principal roadways, rail lines, ports and air terminals. These logistical advantages are critical when you consider that transportation can range from 50 to 80 percent of supply chain costs.2 That’s exactly why MEAG Power communities along interstates 75, 85 and 20 boast an abundance of manufacturing plants and distribution hubs.
Direct, closed loop rail transportation from the Cordele Inland Port in Crisp County, a MEAG Power Participant, to the growing Port of Savannah3 also delivers substantial logistic benefits on a per mile basis. MEAG Power’s Participants, Fairburn and Palmetto, deliver, too, being just minutes from a CSX Railroad intermodal terminal providing access to the entire country.
While many Participants are close to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, others are expanding their regional air fields, adding new hangars and enhancing services and technology to support corporate customers.
Construction-ready sites score high with prospects, and there are numerous GRAD-certified4 properties throughout our communities. Master-planned Stanton Springs Industrial Park, located near Covington, is home to Baxalta Pharmaceutical, a leading biopharmaceutical company. Attracting more business to the area is the Georgia Bioscience Training Center nearby to MEAG Power communities Covington, Mansfield, Monroe, Monticello and Oxford. The Center offers companies customized training in life science and health IT careers. Fitzgerald, another MEAG Power community, has access to nearby Millennium Technology Pointe, designed for call centers, data server farms and other high-tech businesses. Like so many of our communities’ industrial/commercial developments, Millennium is equipped with redundant power and miles of fiber optic cable. Griffin is home to The Lakes at Green Valley, a 570-acre development designed around the location’s natural beauty. When complete, it will be Georgia’s first eco-mixed park.
Business knows education and quality workforce go hand-in-hand, and our Participants have found ways to make this relationship flourish. The majority are Certified Work Ready Communities.5 College and Career Academies with studies in programming, robotics and engineering are in 12 MEAG Power communities. Plus, many have highly rated high schools as well as primary and satellite campuses of Georgia colleges and universities to ensure homegrown talent.
Tax abatements and other cost savings programs also make our communities attractive. Businesses can obtain extra savings thanks to designated Military Zones, Opportunity Zones, Tax Allocation Districts, Community Improvement Districts and Job Tax Credit programs. MEAG Power communities Calhoun, Cartersville and LaFayette were selected by the U.S. Department of Commerce to be part of a $1.3 billion manufacturing initiative making funds available to foreign and domestic enterprises that come to these cities. Many of our communities have attractive electric, water, solid waste, sewer, telecommunications and gas utility rates, with some among the lowest in the state.
Our communities’ high percentage of clean, emissions-free electricity has also been a positive factor. Moreover, as community-owned public power utilities, they have no shareholders to satisfy – just customers. They set their local rates, and local crews are nearby. Their elected bodies are directly accountable to the customers they serve.
Doing everything in their power has already brought many new enterprises as well as local business expansions to our communities. They are grateful for these successes and have the tools and attributes to bring home even more.
1Fiscal 2015 Data/Georgia Department of Economic Development
2Area Development Magazine December 2015
3The $706 million project known as SHEP will deepen the Savannah harbor and the associated shipping channel from an authorized depth of 42 feet to 47 feet to allow larger, more efficient container vessels to use the East Coast’s second busiest container harbor with fewer weight and tidal restrictions.
4GRAD (Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development) certification means that all geotech work, environmental studies and other legal requirements have been fulfilled.
5Certified Work Ready Community is a voluntary initiative that enables communities to demonstrate that they have the talented workforce needed to fill current and future jobs. The certification also shows a community’s commitment to education and to improving public high school graduation rates.