Like a teenager after a summer season progress spurt, Columbia County won’t be recognizable to returning Masters Event guests.
Through the previous 12 months, although COVID-19 exacted a heavy financial toll nationwide, one of many world’s greatest retailers and the Military had been serving to write landmark chapters within the county’s historical past concerning progress.
In April 2020, because the Augusta space was feeling the financial sting of a postponed Masters, state growth officers introduced that retail large Amazon would construct an 800-employee, 600,000-square-foot multi-story distribution heart in Columbia County that, climate allowing, is predicted to open this summer season.
The Georgia Financial Growth Authority awarded the county its Deal of the Yr award for closing the deal even because the pandemic ramped up.
However Amazon wasn’t accomplished. County growth officers disclosed final month that Amazon bought land to construct a second facility in Columbia County – a 278,000-square-foot sortation heart the place Amazon additional processes packages earlier than sending them to supply stations or last-mile supply companions for remaining supply to prospects.
“Location was key,” stated Doug Duncan, chairman of the Columbia County Board of Commissioners. “The placement, one, and the workforce, two. Now we have a great workforce right here. And a undertaking like that can pull from surrounding counties as nicely. McDuffie County, Lincoln County, Richmond County, Columbia – all will profit.”
Amazon’s amenities shall be close to Interstate 20 in White Oak Enterprise Park, comprising greater than 600 acres. Even with Amazon sharing the park presently with golf/private car producer Membership Automotive, each their campuses of about the identical measurement take up solely a fraction of the whole park.
Development in Grovetown
Final September, Fort Gordon formally turned the house of U.S. Military Cyber Command. The dedication ceremony capped a seven-year undertaking to consolidate the navy department’s cyber and digital warfare capabilities at one Military set up, as an alternative of three Military installations in three states.
Fort Gordon borders Columbia County, and Grovetown’s East Robinson Avenue leads on to the fort’s Gate Two. As extra navy households transfer into the realm, so do staff of the various protection contractors who assist help the fort’s cyber mission. Which means Grovetown – one in all solely two integrated cities within the county – typically turns into the chosen vacation spot for brand new residents.
Regardless that Gate Two is slated to be mothballed quickly and used just for particular events, “we actually don’t anticipate a discount of individuals eager to dwell, work, play and lift households in our metropolis,” Grovetown Mayor Gary Jones stated.
Among the many higher-density residential initiatives, the 304-unit Station at Brighton flats opened final September close to the town’s northern limits. As of March, 15 residential initiatives had been shifting “at a speedy tempo,” Jones stated.
Grovetown’s inhabitants stood at 6,089 in 2000, in accordance to the U.S census. By 2010, it had jumped greater than 84% to 11,216. Right this moment, the estimate is greater than 15,000.
Harlem sees inflow
Columbia County’s different integrated metropolis, Harlem, is about eight miles west of Grovetown. Harlem’s estimated inhabitants of about 3,400 is sort of double what it was in 2000.
Harlem Mayor Roxanne Whitaker stated she enjoys seeing “simply the quantity of people that are selecting to dwell in Harlem. We’re sort of away from the hustle and bustle of Augusta, and so it’s good to know that folks nonetheless wish to get away and come to the place we’ve got bigger house websites, which implies bigger yards, and simply the peace and calm of what Harlem represents.”
Taking form north of Harlem is Greenpoint, the place on a 1,400-acre tract the primary section of residential growth has begun – a 550-home neighborhood on 23 acres.
Storefronts in Harlem’s quiet downtown are filling up with new companies. “And we’ve got different issues that wish to come, however we’re working out of area downtown,” Whitaker stated.
Out there land is essential
Land is one in all a number of elements that gasoline Columbia County’s progress, in accordance with Dr. Simon Medcalfe, professor of the James M. Hull Faculty of Enterprise at Augusta College. In 2012, the county was 26% rural, he stated. Right this moment, it’s 16%. Neighboring Richmond County, together with Augusta, is simply 10%.
“Growth wants land to construct on, and there’s extra obtainable in Columbia County,” Medcalfe stated.
Violent crime in Columbia County happens at a decrease fee than the state common, in accordance with Medcalfe, and self-reported well being stays excessive, “although this can be as a result of socioeconomic elements,” he stated. Columbia County residents are likely to have the next common revenue than most residents all through the state.
One other issue, talked about typically by residents, is the high quality of public faculties. Excessive faculties in Columbia County have a commencement fee of 91.9%, topping the state common of 83.8%, Medcalfe stated.
“Now, faculty officers shall be at pains to say you shouldn’t examine an city system like Richmond County with a suburban system like Columbia, and there’s advantage on that from an administrator viewpoint,” Medcalfe stated. “However a mum or dad’s selection is totally different. They don’t seem to be deciding to dwell in Macon or Augusta, they’re deciding to dwell in Richmond or Columbia county for a job within the Augusta space.”