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Clemons: New day dawns with Morning Hornet
David Clemons

For months, we’ve heard rumblings of a major industry coming to Stanton Springs.

This wouldn’t be another distribution center — not that there’s anything wrong with those, because a job is a job, especially for someone who doesn’t have one — but this was going to be different, better and bigger for the area.

Managing Editor Jackie Gutknecht pegged Tuesday as the day to watch, and she was right on the money. That’s when the Joint Development Authority approved tax abatements and the sale of the property.

The scope of what was approved this week shows how big a deal this really is: Taxes are abated for 20 years and bonds totaling $42 billion are issued.

Yes, that’s with a “b.”

The Atlanta Business Chronicle reported Tuesday morning Facebook Inc. will be our new corporate neighbor, joining Shire at Stanton Springs. Economic development officials in Newton and Walton counties won’t confirm or deny the Facebook reports — not even when Gutknecht asked if this was a company we all “like,” or if there was news to “share” — but however this breaks down, it’s a Fortune 250 company.

And it’s one that’s building a massive data center. Only a handful of companies are capable of doing that.

Of course, the CAVE people came out of the woodwork almost immediately, ironically enough on Facebook. Of course I’m referring to the Citizens Against Virtually Everything.

It’s going to change the scope of our community for the worst, and bring lib’ruls from California, or whatever other perceived slights you could imagine. And the cost? Oh, the cost.

But, what if it doesn’t?

What if the investment Morning Hornet makes is enough to pay off the debt that started Stanton Springs in the first place? (Keep in mind, the biggest source of revenue up there a lot of the time is the sale of timber.)

What if the majority of the jobs created go to people living in our community? Heck, it would be life-changing if it’s just one job, so long as that one job goes to you.

And the Atlanta Business Chronicle went on to report the investment would be the largest in state history — and it’s right here in Newton County.

Consider the message that sends other businesses. Someone is going to plunk down $750 million in the first phase alone to be right here in a place we already know is awesome.

You think other companies won’t be paying attention?

If you’re uneasy about the tax abatements and the debt, believe me, I hear you. I wish we didn’t have to offer these kinds of incentives, but this is the game and if we want the jobs, we have to play it. Look at the bidding war for Inc. Whoever gets “HQ2” will pay dearly for those thousands of jobs.

Our economic development team in Newton County has worked so long to do — well, to do its job of bringing new, exciting business to our community. It’s time to get this deal closed and roll out the welcome mat to our new neighbors.

David Clemons is the editor and publisher of The Covington News. His email address is Twitter: @scoopclemons.