Local economy continues to thrive

Does anyone really want to take a look back at 2020? Sure there were many challenges, but the local economy continued to thrive in Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis County.
Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis County was featured in Georgia Trend Magazine, the only statewide business publication, for the first time in more than 10 years.
Beasley Forest Products continued with their tremendous investment in the community. The company, with their largest production hardwood sawmill in the United States, helps set Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis County apart from many of our neighbors. The City of Hazlehurst and Beasley Forest Products also closed out a $750,000 infrastructure project that will help improve fire suppression for the entire City. Due to Beasley’s enormous economic impact, the City received $500,000 in OneGeorgia grant funds to help fund this project.
Silicon Ranch continued to invest in Jeff Davis County, beginning construction on a $65 million solar field.
Work continued at Hazlehurst Wood Pellets where FRAM has invested over $40 million on upgrades. The investment will allow the plant to run more smoothly so they can provide their customers with the best possible product and to operate the plant at maximum capacity. In addition to the new investment, the company hired about 40 new employees.
PalletOne and SunOne Logistics announced at the end of the year that their companies were being purchased by Universal Forest, an announcement that is sure to bring more jobs and investment to Jeff Davis.
After the devastating onset of Covid-19, Propex made the announcement that they will start a new line of PPE production at their Hazlehurst facility, resulting in new investment and jobs.
The community also made a bold step by investing in a new branding and marketing campaign which will be unveiled in the spring of this year. The campaign will set Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis County apart, identifying what is most unique about our community.
Economic development depends upon having a variety of available land and buildings. For that reason, 50 acres of industrial land in the Gainer Industrial Park owned by the Development Authority of Jeff Davis County has been cleared and grassed for future development. In addition and to end the year on a high note, the Development Authority of Jeff Davis County also purchased 20 acres of land and four buildings no longer in use by Propex that will be developed and renovated to attract jobs and investment.
Industrial buildings in Lumber City that had been vacant for nearly 20 years that were owned by the Joint Development Authority of Hazlehurst, Lumber City and Telfair County were sold to Telfair Forest Products, a win-win for the region and the company.
The Southeast Georgia Regional Development Authority (SGRDA), a regional development authority including Bacon, Appling, Pierce and Jeff Davis counties, had two major successes in 2020. The first was a $500,000 rail grant for the Pierce County Industrial Park owned by the SGRDA. The second was $3 million in funding from the State of Georgia to construct the Southern Pines College & Career Academy in Baxley that will help grow a more skilled workforce and will serve our entire area. This career academy is the first in the state to be regionally driven.
The Development Authority of Jeff Davis County also continued its work with NextSite, a commercial development advisory firm. NextSite was essential to locating Tractor Supply in Hazlehurst, which opened its doors in November.
Robert Wiggins furthered his investment in Hazlehurst with the purchase of Hardee’s to “Make Hardee’s Great Again!” and the exciting announcement that he will be bringing Arby’s to Hazlehurst in 2021.
There has been a renewed interest in downtown Hazlehurst with several new businesses opening over the past couple of years and more to come in the near future. Development of a downtown Master Plan that will unveil the potential of Main Street Hazlehurst will begin in March of this year. The City of Hazlehurst and the Chamber of Commerce also partnered to receive a grant for a mural to be painted in downtown Hazlehurst. Work on the mural will begin this spring.
In addition to economic development and community development, communities must invest in leadership development to ensure there is a pipeline of leaders to take our community to the next level. The Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis Chamber of Commerce held its second JD Forward Leadership Academy that kicked off in January with 13 participants learning more about community and economic development. Participants in this class have proven to be leaders in the community already by leading various committees and joining local boards.
The Development Authority’s mission is to grow jobs and investment in Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis County. Please contact Andrea Taylor at 912-327-0830 should you have any questions or if you would like help growing your business.

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