By Tia Lynn Ivey
Significant new development from a “mystery” industry could be on the horizon for Stanton Springs Industrial Park, in which Morgan County owns a 15 percent share.
Stanton Springs Industrial Park is a project 20-years in the making to bring medical and technological industries into the region.
The industrial park currently houses several high-profile developments, including Takeda’s $1.2 billion biopharmaceutical plant, a $14 million Bioscience Training Center and a $750,000 Facebook data center, which will undergo future phases of development over the next two decades that could cost up to $42 billion.
But what the future holds for Stanton Springs’ remaining 550 acres of developable land is anyone’s guess, literally.
“There is significant interest currently from industries, but we have no idea who it is,” said Alan Verner, Chairman of the Joint Development Authority (JDA), the four-county board tasked with the development of Stanton Springs Industrial Park.
Verner, a Morgan County native, explained that giant companies often use a pseudonym company name to disguise their identity during the preliminary phases of scoping out new locations for their business’ expansion.
“When Facebook was looking at Stanton Springs, we didn’t know right away it was Facebook. They used the name ‘Morning Hornet,’” said Verner. “Big companies like that don’t want their competitors to know what they’re up to.”
According to Verner, several companies have inquired about the remaining acres for sale at Stanton Springs.
“It’s in the initial phases,” said Verner. “But we have complied with requests for information. There is no deal at this time, but one company has come back three times to ask for more information. So there is interest there.”
Verner noted that the price of each acre available at Stanton Springs ranges from $40,000 to $60,000 per acre.
“That’s based on land that has been sold and, of course, we don’t know exactly what it would sell for, but that’s about the range,” said Verner.
While a mystery industry may indeed be interested in part of the available land at Stanton Springs, the JDA is currently working on expanding marketing efforts to draw in even more industries. The Stanton Springs website is being updated to reflect current available opportunities.
“There’s room out there for half a dozen developments at least,” said Verner.
Now that the $3.5 million project to extend the Shire Parkway 2,400 feet was completed last summer, the JDA is ready to sell the remaining land.
According to Verner, before the coronavirus pandemic hit, industry scouts from the southeast and other parts of the country came to tour Stanton Springs.
“Now with the pandemic, we are working on making our marketing more virtual,” said Verner, who noted the JDA is utilizing drones to provide aerial views of the land and industrial park for prospective buyers.
Whenever the JDA sells the remaining acres in Stanton Springs, Morgan County, along with the Jasper, Walton and Newton counties, will benefit down the line from the sale and future tax revenues.
Morgan County’s share is 15 percent.
“When we sell property, that money would come back to the JDA and flow to the four counties or the JDA would see what other opportunities exist to reinvest some of the money for the four counties— whatever is the best benefit would be for the sale proceed,” explained Verner. “We are excited to see what the future brings to Stanton Springs.”