MADISON, Ga. — Another large-scale economic development project appears to be underway at Stanton Springs.
During its Tuesday meeting, the Joint Development Authority, including Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton counties, approved a $42 billion bond issuance, as well as a purchase and sale agreement with an out-of-state company legally operating under the name Baymare.
Shane Short, executive director of the Development Authority of Walton County and lead economic development director for the JDA, said while Baymare was not a Georgia-based company, the company did already have a presence in the state.
“That bond resolution is to support their development,” he said. “It’s a pretty significant development. We also approved the purchase and sale agreement of the property today, along with that bond resolution.”
Short said the deal, which is expected to be finalized in March, would include the sell of more than 620 acres the JDA currently owns at Stanton Springs. The JDA added 40-plus acres of land to the industrial park during its meeting. The triangular piece of property was recently rezoned by the Newton County Board of Commissioners for the “purpose of better market appeal.”
The new development would essentially occupy the rest of Stanton Springs, leaving the JDA with little property left.
Approving the bond issue allows Baymare to access the bond market through financing and much lower interest rates and among other incentives. In order to do that, a local development authority must approve them to go to market through what Short called a phantom bond.
On the tax digest, Short said, the JDA would be listed as the owner of the property through the tax abatement process because giving gratuities to companies goes against the state’s Constitution.
“The majority of states don’t do that. It’s just a local resolution by the governing authority and it's over,” Short said. “In the state of Georgia, because we have that clause in our constitution, we have to go through this whole bond process in order to make that legal.”
The $42 billion bond issue approved Tuesday was the same total as the JDA’s latest sizable development for Facebook’s Newton Data Center in 2018, who worked under the legal name Morning Hornet.
Short said he could not confirm or deny the bond was another development for Facebook, or Takeda, which was the first occupant of Stanton Springs.
Serra P. Hall, vice president of project development with the Newton County Industrial Development Authority, said Baymare “fits the scheme of what we want to see and attract to Stanton Springs” that includes “companies with high-end, high-paying jobs.”
Facebook’s Newton Data Center ended up being one of the biggest economic investments in Georgia’s 233-year history after its announcement in 2018. The California-based social media company initially invested $750 million with the creation of its 1 million-square-foot facility and is expected to invest up to $42 billion over the next two decades.
Last year, Facebook announced plans for at least one expansion, which included the addition of three buildings on a $1 billion investment. With the expansion, Facebook will have created approximately 300 new jobs in the area.
Takeda came to Stanton Springs after years of recruiting when finally Baxter International chose the site for a biopharmaceutical plant in 2012 and later opened in 2018.