ATLANTA (Nov. 18, 2014) — The Georgia Economic Developers Association (GEDA), one of the leading organizations for economic development in the U.S., named the location of the Israeli company Caesarstone Sdot-Yam Ltd. (NASDAQ:CSTE) to Bryan County, Ga., as the “Deal of the Year” in the 50,000 and under population category at its annual awards luncheon yesterday.
The awards, which recognize achievement in locating or expanding new business, were judged by a group made up of an independent site selection consultant and state partners who made recommendations to the GEDA board.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal honored the company and a range of partners in the collaborative effort, including the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Georgia Power, the Development Authority of Bryan County, the city of Richmond Hill, the Bryan County Board of Commissioners, Georgia Ports Authority, and TerraPointe Services, the real estate subsidiary of Rayonier Inc. (NYSE:RYN).
It is the second such award given in the past few months to Caesarstone and its partners. In June, conexx: America Israel Business Connector, a nonprofit organization that helps bring mutual economic advances to Israel and the southeastern United States, also named the location its “Eagle Star Deal of the Year.”
Just one year ago, Caesarstone announced it would build its first-ever U.S. manufacturing facility at Belfast Commerce Centre, a certified industrial site owned and managed by TerraPointe and the largest rail-served site in the Port of Savannah market.
“We are pleased with our decision to locate our plant in Bryan County,” said Yosef Shiran, Caesarstone’s Chief Executive Officer. “The proximity to the Savannah port, convenient transportation, availability of quality workforce, and the support of the community and authorities of Bryan County and the state of Georgia make this the right location for our operation expansion.”
In addition to creating 180 jobs, Caesarstone is investing over $100 million into the facility. Derrick Smith, chairman of the Development Authority of Bryan County, said the deal was a true collaborative effort.
“The Caesarstone project was extremely competitive,” Smith said. “Initially, Caesarstone reviewed 80 sites in seven states. All the parties—from the company to the landowner, the city, the county, and the development authority—came together to find creative solutions to make this deal happen. And we were all working around different time zones, cultures, and languages throughout the process.”
During the negotiation, the Bryan County Board of Commissioners Chairman made a personal visit to Israel, calling on Caesarstone headquarters and building immense trust and community bonds. “It was this kind of extra effort that helped Caesarstone understand what kind of community Bryan County is,” Smith said.
While the community had all the right attributes, Caesarstone required a development-ready industrial site to support its operations. Enter TerraPointe and its certified site, Belfast Commerce Centre.
As the largest rail-served site in the Port of Savannah market, Belfast features 8,800 feet of onsite rail, two miles of I-95 frontage, and direct rail access to the port via CSX and the Riceboro Southern Railway. A certified “development-ready” site, it had all the necessary permits in place for Caesarstone and other similar manufacturers interested in building there.
“While Belfast Commerce Centre was ready for development, with all the due diligence completed, a strong public-private partnership with many committed partners was critical in making this deal a reality,” said Chris Corr, president of TerraPointe Services. “We’re proud to have been part of this collaborative effort.”
The site has now received Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development (GRAD) certification in addition to its CSX Select Site designation.
Caesarstone, founded and headquartered in Caesarea, Israel, manufactures custom quartz surfaces, using the latest technologies and innovative techniques to create the ideal surface for kitchens, vanities, floors, and other interior surfaces for both residential and commercial buildings. It offers more than 40 unique colors and textures available in more than 50 countries. For more information, visit www.caesarstoneus.com.
About The Development Authority of Bryan County
The Development Authority of Bryan County serves as the economic development arm of the Bryan County government and the cities of Pembroke and Richmond Hill. For more information, visit www.bryancountyga.com.
About TerraPointe Services
TerraPointe Services Inc., a Rayonier company, is a professional real estate service organization authorized to manage real estate activity on behalf of various Rayonier companies (including Rayonier Forest Resources, TerraPointe LLC, and Belfast Commerce Centre LLC). For more information, visit www.terrapointeserviceslandsales.com.
Comprised of Forest Resources and Real Estate businesses, Rayonier Inc. is a geographically diverse global land resources company. The company owns, leases, or manages 2.6 million acres of high-quality timberlands in North America and New Zealand. Its holdings include 2.3 million acres across ten U.S. states and approximately 200,000 high-value acres with residential, commercial, and industrial development potential along the Interstate 95 corridor between Savannah, Ga. and Daytona Beach, Fla. Rayonier is structured as a real estate investment trust. More information is available at www.rayonier.com.
More than 50 years strong, GEDA is a non-profit association of professionals, volunteers, and supporters. The association provides networking and professional development opportunities for its members and supports public policies that promote quality job creation and sustainable economic development throughout the state. For more information, visit www.geda.org.