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Newton government, utility agency partner to back bonds for new business park
Facebook Stanton Springs
Industrial recruiters say they will work to bring companies to a new business park of a quality similar to those in nearby Stanton Springs, where Facebook's new data center is nearing completion. - photo by Tom Spigolon

COVINGTON, Ga. — Two county governing agencies have agreed to back financing for development of a new business park in Newton’s northeast corner.

The Newton County Board of Commissioners and the county Water & Sewerage Authority approved an intergovernmental agreement early this week to share the responsibility for guaranteeing $16.1 million in bonds for purchase of undeveloped land at I-20 and U.S. Highway 278 to establish Stanton Grove business park.

The Newton County Industrial Development Authority plans to issue the industrial revenue bonds and use the proceeds to buy the 335-acre site that is partly in the city of Social Circle.

The land includes frontage along I-20 between highways 278 and Ga. Highway 11.

Commissioners voted unanimously for the agreement Tuesday, Feb. 2, after hearing the county government would share equally with the Water & Sewerage Authority in responsibility for repayment if the Development Authority defaults on repayment of the bonds.

Newton commissioners voted in early November to deny the Development Authority’s request for the same deal because the county government was the sole guarantor of the bonds.

Commissioner Ronnie Cowan, whose district includes the Stanton Grove site, said he was comfortable with the new risk-sharing agreement.

“This is a good deal for the county,” Cowan said.

District 1 Commissioner Stan Edwards said he had concerns about the county’s role in the November request.

“Those concerns are alleviated now,” he said.

County Attorney Sam VanVolkenburgh said the government would take ownership of the land if the Industrial Development Authority defaults on bond payments.

However, Development Authority vice president Serra Hall told commissioners the agency has enough money to make bond payments even if no land sales were completed within the next six years.

She said the Authority would reserve the money in a fund dedicated to debt service payments.

Hall stressed that the agency intends to market the park to companies planning high-quality developments similar to those already in nearby Stanton Springs business park.

Stanton Springs is home to Takeda Pharmaceuticals while social media giant Facebook is nearing completion of an almost 1-million-square-foot data center in the park.

Facebook also is planning a second data center adjacent to the first to bring the company’s investment in Stanton Springs to about $1 billion, it has announced.