SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. — Stanton Grove’s lucent future will now be in the hands of the Newton County Industrial Development Authority.
Newton County IDA Vice President Serra P. Hall said the authority finalized the 317-acre purchase March 10 at a rate of $40,000 per acre with plans to emulate the success of nearby industrial park Stanton Springs — home to multi-billion-dollar industries such as Facebook’s Newton Data Center and Takeda Pharmaceuticals.
The Newton County Board of Commissioners and the Newton County Water & Sewerage Authority approved an intergovernmental agreement in February to back $16.1 million in bonds so the Newton County IDA could make the purchase. At the time, Hall told commissioners the Newton County IDA had enough money to make bond payments even if no land sales were completed within the next six years.
Stanton Grove is an undeveloped area located west of U.S. 278 and north of I-20 that neighbors the renowned Stanton Springs.
“The DA has held [the Stanton Grove property] under auction for a little over five years, and within the last year, decided to pull the trigger and decided to purchase it for the future, really adding a new opportunity for industrial business growth at Exit 101,” Hall said.
Hall called the area “a true beacon of business light.” After witnessing the success of Stanton Springs by the Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton Counties, she said the Newton County IDA believes similar success can be replicated at Stanton Grove.
The Newton County IDA was awarded $1 million from the 2017 SPLOST for economic development purposes that would be put toward the purchase.
“With having [the SPLOST funds], the DA for many years having funding support as well, and looking at where we were at Exit 101, we felt like the time is right,” she said, “and we’re excited about the possibilities.
“I won’t say we’re fully open for business, but we are excited to begin the future of the park and get open for business,” she added.
Hall said the first order of business would be establishing a solid infrastructure for the property, and for that, she pointed to the Newton County IDA’s partnership with the county’s water and sewerage authority.
“Without the partnership of the water and sewage authority, we wouldn’t be in this position,” Hall said. “We needed a true key partner, not only on the local government level but for our infrastructure needs — you can’t do anything without water or sewer … With their aggressive nature about development and about securing business and really being a leader in water/sewer needs and service points, we felt like it was a good mix.”
Stanton Grove has already generated lots of intrigue from several industries, Hall said.
“Beyond Stanton Springs, I would say this is our most popular site for [requests for proposals] and interest,” she said. “We feel like that will only continue.”
Because the majority of Stanton Grove is located within the city of Social Circle, Hall said the development would mark the first time that the Newton County IDA would be working with municipal leadership outside the city of Covington.
“I think that it’s exciting,” Hall said. “It’s a new path and avenue. The normal nature has been heavily working with Covington and our county seat, but I think Social Circle has a lot of great points in success in what they’ve done, and it’ll be a whole new adventure to begin working with another city to accomplish great things out there.”
In February, Hall said the Newton County IDA would market the property to industries planning high-quality developments similar to those already established next door at Stanton Springs.
The JDA still owns property east of Stanton Grove that is located at the corner of U.S. 278 and I-20, directly north of Stanton Springs within Walton and Morgan counties, according to Hall. She said that property could likely be the site of the JDA’s next development venture.
“It is fair to say you might eventually see a Stanton Springs south campus and a Stanton Springs north campus,” Hall said.