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County OKs sale of G-P site

It took less than 90 seconds Monday night for Columbus County commissioners to vote unanimously to finalize a deal that has been under discussion and negotiation for months: the sale of the former Georgia Pacific site to the R.J. Corman Railroad Group for $2.133 million.

The former Georgia Pacific site.

The vote is significant because Corman is expected to actively market the property for industrial development, possibly to Project Black, the long-awaited biofuels company.

Securing partners at the site is important for Corman’s long-range plans for the rail line.

Earlier in their meeting, commissioners conducted a public hearing on the proposal but the only speaker was Rashad Roberts, who represented the Columbus Jobs Foundation and who advocated for the sale.

“We support the sale to R.J. Corman,” Roberts said. “We stand behind this sale and think it will be good for Columbus County to have some vitality back at the Georgia Pacific site and bring jobs back to our area. We are in full support of selling the site to R.J. Corman.”

The Columbus Jobs Foundation is the volunteer arm of economic development in the county.

The sale of the property to Corman was agreed to in principle by commissioners several months ago but had not been culminated because of concerns about asbestos on the site. Those concerns were satisfied and the parties reportedly came to a final agreement last week.

R.J. Corman is expected to devote the site to helping “Project Black,” a yet-to-be-identified biofuels processor, start operations, something that is expected to create upwards of 200 new jobs and a $50 million investment here.

In addition, R.J. Corman has offered to donate up to 20 acres of the site to be devoted to a fire and rescue training facility.

The commissioners had purchased the property from Georgia Pacific as the company was considering scrapping much of the metal at the site, essentially rendering the property useless as a site for future development.

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