The Development Authority of Bryan County was recognized Wednesday for being on the right track with its business recruitment and development efforts.
CSX Transportation presented its Regional Development Partnershipping Award to the DABC for establishing the 1,000-acre Belfast Commerce Centre and bringing quartz-countertop manufacturer Caesarstone to South Bryan as the industrial park’s first tenant.
“You painted a clear target, and I think it’s going to keep attracting business,” said Carl Warren, CSX’s director of industrial development and ports. “This development capitalizes on the region’s logistical strengths and will promote economic expansion and job creation in the area.”
Caesarstone reportedly looked at about 75 sites in several states before deciding on Belfast Commerce Center for its first manufacturing plant in the United States.
The 284,000-square-foot facility opened in May and is employing about 180 people in its first phase.
CSX awarded the Development Authority of Bryan County for its “dedication, expertise and persistence” and “high standards of professionalism, integrity and cooperation” in landing Caesarstone, according to Aubrey Brown, the industrial-development manager for CSX.
“It really takes a team effort to pull the various components together to make a project like this happen,” Brown said. “The Development Authority of Bryan County did a truly outstanding job working with a bunch of different constituents involved in locating this facility in this community.”
Bryan County is only the second community in Georgia to receive a CSX Regional Development Partnershipping Award. Cartersville/Bartow County was recognized last year, Brown said.
The Belfast Commerce Centre received CSX Select Site designation in 2012, confirming the site met a list of development criteria and could rapidly use freight service. The industrial park is adjacent to Interstate 95 and has rail service on the Riceboro Southern short line, which connects directly to CSX in Savannah.
“We applaud your success, we honor your commitment and, more importantly, we at CSX look forward to working together with you on even greater projects and ventures in the future,” Brown said at Wednesday’s DABC board of directors meeting.
Warren presented the plaque to DABC board chairman Derrick Smith. Several Richmond Hill and Bryan County leaders also were on hand for the presentation, along with representatives from agencies such as the Georgia Department of Transportation, Georgia Ports Authority and Georgia Department of Economic Development.
“This couldn’t have happened without everybody in this room,” Development Authority of Bryan County CEO Anna Chafin said.
“The Belfast and Caesarstone projects have truly been a local, regional and state collaboration,” Smith said. “We are honored that CSX has awarded the DABC a Partnershipping Award.”