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From Site Selection magazine, March 2023

Time Machines

By shortening timelines, certified sites extend opportunities.

Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant America (HMGMA) LLC broke ground in October 2022 for its $5.54 billion manufacturing plant at the 2,967 Bryan County megasite — the very first site in Georgia’s new megasite program.
Rendering courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group


leven years after it launched its Select Site certification program, CSX in January announced a newly designated location to bring that select list to 26: the 1,426-acre Central South Carolina Megasite in Lugoff, South Carolina, located near I-20 less than 30 minutes from the state capital of Columbia. It’s one of three Select Sites in the state.

“It’s rare to find a property this large that is adjacent to both a railroad mainline and an interstate highway at an existing interchange, with all utilities on site,” said Jonathan Gemmen, senior director, Austin Consulting, the firm that works with CSX to screen candidate sites and assist communities with the application and certification process.

A CSX release explains that Kershaw County identified the megasite property over 15 years ago as an opportunity to attract a large industrial user. Subsequently, the county “performed all the necessary due diligence studies, such as environmental, archaeological, endangered species, wetland delineation and multiple geotechnical studies,” says CSX. “Large portions of the megasite have been cleared and a 500,000-gallon water tank is under construction on the north end of the site.”

That sort of dedication, preparation and action goes a long way to reducing construction timelines once a buyer pulls the trigger. But it does something else too.

“Taking part in the CSX Select Site program demonstrates Kershaw’s commitment to economic development,” said Julian Burns, chairman of the Kershaw County Council.


Norfolk Southern: $3.2B in Projects Along Network in 2022

CSX’s rivals know the value of certified and prepared industrial sites too. Norfolk Southern recently announced it had partnered with 120 companies to facilitate 159 industrial development projects in 2022. The projects expanded operations or created new facilities along the company’s rail network. Collectively, they represent $3.2 billion in investment and the creation of more than 3,940 new jobs.

“Our customers continue to leverage our business development and real estate expertise in addition to our world-class logistics network,” said Norfolk Southern Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Ed Elkins. “With more than 825 development-ready industrial sites, approximately 300 rail-to-truck transload facilities, and 260 short-line partnerships, we have the capacity and connections to support our customers and earn new business.”

Using the railroad’s customizable industrial site and transload location search engine NSites, it’s easy to filter by certified status to find that 54 of those 825 sites are officially certified. They include a 1,600-acre megasite in Calera, Alabama, located next to I-65 south of Birmingham; the 3,305-acre Southern Virginia Megasite in Danville; the 1,814-acre Crawford Diamond Industrial Park in Callahan, Florida (Nassau County); the 1,825-acre Waverly Mega Site in Sussex County, Virginia; the 1,419-acre Franklin Farm site in Richland Parish, Louisiana; and the 1,017-acre Orangeburg County Power Site in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

Among the 33 companies representing $30 billion in forthcoming investment in Norfolk Southern’s project pipeline for 2023 and beyond is Hyundai Motor Group, which is investing $5.54 billion in an EV and battery manufacturing “metaplant” at a 2,967-acre certified megasite in Bryan County, Georgia, just northwest of Savannah along I-16. It was the very first site in Georgia’s megasite program, purchased for just such an investment by the State of Georgia and the Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Corridor Joint Development Authority (Bryan County, Bulloch County, Chatham County, and Effingham County) less than one year before Hyundai’s May 2022 announcement.

As it happens, rail service provided to the site by Georgia Central Shortline will connect to CSX in Savannah and Norfolk Southern near Macon.

Adam Bruns
Editor in Chief of Site Selection magazine

Adam Bruns

Adam Bruns is editor in chief and head of publications for Site Selection, and before that has served as managing editor beginning in February 2002. In the course of reporting hundreds of stories for Site Selection, Adam has visited companies and communities around the globe. A St. Louis native who grew up in the Kansas City suburbs, Adam is a 1986 alumnus of Knox College, and resided in Chicago; Midcoast Maine; Savannah, Georgia; and Lexington, Kentucky, before settling in the Greater Atlanta community of Peachtree Corners, where he lives with his wife and daughter.


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