GEORGIA GRAD SITES - Accelerating Economic Development
ccelerating the time to market has never been a more critical site selection factor for companies than it is now. Shovel-ready, certified sites — particularly land tracts that have all the requisite zoning, permit approvals and utilities in place — go to the top of the short list when corporations are on a fast track to select a facility location.
The economic development leadership in Georgia knows this, and that is why the Georgia GRAD Sites program now offers 27 certified sites around the state for companies that are ready to make a decision. Parcels range in size up to 2,000 acres, representing a variety of geographic locations and rural and suburban settings.
The Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development (GRAD) Sites initiative is already paying dividends for communities across the Peach State. "GRAD Sites continue to grab the attention of company decision makers and site location consultants alike," says Pat Wilson, COO for the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD). "There are 27 certified sites around the state, and we have another dozen that are in various stages of due diligence and application."
The program employs an independent site selection consultant, Jim Bruce of BFPC LLC in Norcross, GA, to certify sites. "Jim has been great for this program," Wilson says. "We needed an independent and knowledgeable site location expert, to provide impartiality in order to maintain exacting standards of development regardless of location." The GRAD program was initiated by Georgia Allies, a public/private partnership which supports the state's job creation efforts. Since the inception of the program, six companies have selected GRAD sites as facility locations.
Among the work conducted on qualifying sites in Georgia are a Phase I environmental study, geotechnical work, wetlands delineation and historical and archeological research. It is a comprehensive process that requires a considerable investment of time, money and other resources on the part of the participating community.
"If you are serious about having a really attractive and competitive site, then a community must invest some resources and carry out advanced due diligence. This allows a company to site and construct a facility, saving time to market," says Gretchen Corbin, Deputy Commissioner for the Global Commerce Division of GDEcD. "But it's definitely worth the investment," Corbin notes.
Bruce says it takes about three to six months to complete the entire application and approval process. A site receives an approval certificate, which is good for two years. After two years a community must then re-apply to extend the certification, assuming no development has taken place during the two-year period.
For more information, please contact Pat Wilson, COO of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, at 404-962-4000.