CAIRO — The Grady County Joint Development Authority (JDA) was awarded a $500,000 loan from the State of Georgia this month to construct a new industrial park spec building.
At 20,000 square feet, JDA executive director Julian Brown said the proposed structure is a bit on the smaller side, but its location on an unoccupied 45-acre field along Hall Road stretching from Industrial Park Drive in the north to Joyner Road in the south means the building can be expanded easily to become 10 times that size or even larger.
“We’ve had some success in Grady County in the past with companies moving into a smaller building, and now they’ve grown to much larger facilities,” Brown said.
Spec buildings, or speculative buildings, are constructed by entities such as local development authorities to attract potential tenants who would not have to fund the creation of their own structures.
“We have land, but we’re out of buildings here,” Brown said, “which is a good thing. It means all of our buildings in the industrial park are occupied. But it’s a challenge, too, to convince a company to come to Cairo when they don’t have anything to look at.”
That’s where the OneGeorgia Equity Fund steps in. The Community Affairs-run financial assistance program awarded the JDA a $500,000 zero-interest loan with a 20-year term earlier this month. Payments on the loan are not due within the first five years unless the building is occupied.
Brown said the project would not have been possible without OneGeorgia’s help.
“It’s a pretty great program that the State of Georgia does,” Brown said. “It allows small towns like Cairo to have the financial ability to build these buildings.”
Contract negotiations with a civil engineer are underway. Once that deal is in place, a 30-day bidding period will be opened up for construction firms interested in taking on the project.
Brown said he hopes to see ground break on the project as early as this October.
“I think with our timeline and the legal amount of time we have to bid the project, I think we could see at least site work starting by then,” he said.
Construction of the building, which Brown expects to take about a year, will focus on site work and the shell of the structure, but the building’s interior will be left mostly incomplete until a tenant moves in.
“We don’t want to shoot ourselves in the foot by putting so many square feet of offices up front, then you have a company who comes in and they needed more floor space, or they needed more office space than we put,” Brown said.
“If a company came in, they could customize it to how they want it,” he added.