Rail spur
Industrial Development Director Matt Carter points in the direction a rail spur would be constructed off the main rail track running parallel to U.S. Highway 84 into the Industrial Park.


County receives $500K to bolster infrastructure


Pierce County joined the Southeast Georgia Regional Development Authority (SEGRDA) last October, and it paid off in a big way this week.
The joint development authority has received a $500,000 OneGeorgia Authority Grant which will be used to construct a rail spur in the Pierce County U.S. Highway 84 Industrial Park.
The Department of Community Affairs (DCA) announced the grant award Monday morning.
“This made my day,” IDA Executive Director Matt Carter said excitedly. “It’s more infrastructure for future clients ... and it’s another asset to the region – not only Pierce.”
A rail spur is highly marketable to future industries which could translate to job growth, economic expansion and increased tax revenue.
The SEGRDA submitted a grant application for the rail spur project in June, but Carter didn’t expect to hear back from DCA quite so soon.
The grant award is the most substantial impact Pierce County has received to date after joining the regional development authority.
“It’s by far the largest benefit we’ve seen since joining the joint authority,” Carter says.
Constructing a rail spur in the Park to market to potential industry has long been a goal for Carter and the IDA, but it was the leverage of all four counties who participate in the regional authority that finally made it a reality.
“We’ve tried several avenues (to get this done). At the end of the day, the fact that it benefits four communities ... it’s a no-brainer for these funds to be spent in this Park,” Carter says.
Other counties in the SEGRDA include Appling, Jeff Davis and Bacon.
“Jeff Davis County is proud to partner with our surrounding counties and this award is proof of what we can do when we come together regionally,” says Andrea Taylor, CEO of the Joint Development Authority of Jeff Davis County, Hazlehurst & Denton.
“Having rail at an industrial site is great, but having the spur in place makes the property so much more attractive to a new industry that may be on a quick timeline. This award will positively impact the entire southeast Georgia region and beyond,” agrees Keri Orvin, executive director of the Appling County development authority.
“We are glad to play a role in bringing new rail opportunities to our area. SGRDA will continue to support the growth and development of our communities through joint projects which benefit us all,” said Kevin Ellis of the Bacon County Development Authority.
The spur could also lead to the construction of additional rail storage in the Park that would potentially alleviate rail car storage backlog in Waycross.
“It could provide opportunities for those cars to be (stored),” Carter adds.
The OneGeorgia Equity Fund provides financial assistance to help build community capacity and infrastructure for economic development. Investments such as this are intended to spur economic development in rural Georgia. OneGeorgia programs are administered by DCA.  
“We are delighted to make this investment in Pierce County not only because of the economic promise this represents to this community, but also because of the potential impacts across the region,” said DCA Commissioner Christopher Nunn. “Regional thinking and investment are key to economic prosperity, especially in rural parts of our state.”  
DCA partners with communities to build strong and vibrant neighborhoods, commercial and industrial areas through community and economic development, local government assistance, and safe and affordable housing. Using state and federal resources, DCA helps communities spur private job creation, implement planning, develop downtowns, generate affordable housing solutions and promote volunteerism. DCA also helps qualified Georgians with low and moderate incomes buy homes, rent housing and prevent foreclosure and homelessness. For more information, visit www.dca.ga.gov.