Columbia County hopes new Walmart inspires more new businesses

By: Katie Beasley Email
By: Katie Beasley Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock, January 22, 2009

GROVETOWN, Ga.---It's called The Gateway and it's a growing part of Columbia County. One they hope will grab your attention.

It looks like a big pile of dirt now, but Gary Barner is trying to picture a Wal-Mart shopping center there. Gary lives near I-20 and Lewiston Road and he can't wait for it to open.

"All of a sudden, I found out it was a Wal-Mart and me and my wife both were excited about it," says Gary.

By October -- this big, open space will look like every other Super Wal-Mart. Deputy County Administrator Scott Johnson says it's just more proof the area is really growing, "That's going to be another epicenter of Columbia County. It's gonna happen, just like the Evans area exploded several years ago," says Johnson.

And as construction on Wal-Mart begins, the county is thinking about using some SPLOST money to put their stamp on The Gateway. "I think the county is looking to that area as a potential site for a park or some sort of meeting facility of convention center," says Johnson.

But looking is all they're doing since voters said no to an aquatics center and arena for that land.

Now that the Wal-Mart is underway, the county is hoping other businesses will follow their lead. "Certainly people are going to be interested because that Wal-Mart's gonna draw a lot of people and other businesses will be interested because it's already there," says Johnson.

When those businesses jump on board, the county is ready to work with them to make sure this area stands out. "We want that be nice because we're aware that that is maybe one of the first things you see, the first glimpse you see of metropolitan Columbia County," says Johnson.

And Gary is just ready for it to be here. "It's gonna save us a lot of time and a lot of money of course," says Gary.

Blanchard and Calhoun, the developer for the site, says in addition to the Super Wal-Mart, there will also be an additional 30,000 square feet of retail space at The Gateway.

They say they've seen interest from several restaurants and a bank for that area.


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