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Augusta economy soars as new businesses flock to the city

Published: Sep. 24, 2020 at 6:12 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The coronavirus pandemic has been terrible for businesses, but we have some good news: So many businesses want to come to the Augusta area that we’re running out of space for more.

More than 800 acres of land has been cleared at the Augusta Corporate Park, ready for businesses to build. And this is really the only place they can as most business spots in the city have filled up.

“The excitement level in our office is probably one of the highest it’s ever been," Augusta Economic Development Authority President Cal Wray said.

Wray says Augusta is a finalist for three potential business development projects.

“Those three themselves are upwards of $100 million in capital investment,” Wray said.

They are also the site of choice for an Asian company that could potentially invest $500 million.

Economic development is preparing up to 1,000 acres at the corporate park.

“Existing square footage -- we are out of space. That’s why we need to get some under construction,” Wray said.

But many of these decisions are on hold due to, of course, COVID-19.

“Obviously, you can do it by Zoom. But, when you’ve got companies looking to invest this kind of money, they physically need to put their feet on the ground,” Wray explained.

Still, the outlook locally is better. The unemployment rate in Augusta is down to 3 percent less than the U.S.

“I’m getting orders from around the country now. It’s not just local orders,” Jennifer Tinsley said.

Tinsley owns Field Botanicals downtown. She’s pivoted part of her business to E-commerce, and now she’s starting to get back on track.

“I think it’s settling down a bit. You know, at least in retail, they are feeling a little bit more secure financially,” she said.

An interesting part of these potential projects is that most of them are manufacturing, and foreign-owned companies are looking to open locations here. And the development authority says it’s higher-paying jobs.

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