Grant & Loan Awards: Wheeler County
Equity grant funds will be used to assist with the construction of public water and sewer infrastructure improvements to support the expansion of Corrections Corporation of America, Inc. d.b.a. Wheeler Correctional Facility in Wheeler County. Based on data from the Georgia Department of Labor, Wheeler County and the surrounding region has lost over 6,368 manufacturing jobs since 1995. The Corrections Corporation of America, Inc. is committed to expanding their Wheeler facility from just over 1,600 beds to 2,500 beds and to creating 75 new jobs, retaining 288 jobs, and making a private investment of approximately $30 million dollars. The overall project will consist of the expansion of the prison, construction of a 200,000 gallon elevated water tank, upgrading the prison well pump and sewer improvements to enable the City to treat the excess sewerage from the plant expansion.
AIRGeorgia funds to assist with improvements to Telfair-Wheeler Airport to extend the 4,030 ft runway to 5,001 ft (received ARRA/stimulus funds for this activity) and relocate an electric power transmission line (AIRGeorgia). Both Telfair and Wheeler counties connect to Georgia Ports via highway and rail but airport upgrades are needed to compete in today’s highly competitive economic environment. The existing runway is inadequate and needs extending to serve corporate and twin engine aircraft. US Highways 341, 441, 280 converging in McRae provide economic potential to attract industry and tourists to the area. The counties house a state park, hunting reserves, wildlife management areas, an equestrian facility and motocross park as well as a world-class golf course. Husquavarna, Telfair's largest employer with 1,400 employees, expressed a need for the airport expansion as has the Corrections Corp of America (CCA) who transports inmates to and from their Wheeler and Telfair facilities.
Equity funds to assist with upgrading the City's sanitary sewer system. The Cityâ€™s Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) is out of compliance and the EPD has issued two Consent Orders to the City. Two of Wheeler County's top five employers are threatened by these wastewater issues which include Lower Oconee Regional Hospital and Accord Nursing Center. These two facilities provide 93 full-time jobs with 51 percent low to moderate income residents. The recent closing of the hospital in Telfair County has made the Lower Oconee Regional Hospital even more vital to this economically distressed region.
BRIDGE funds to assist with the cost of feasibility studies needed to determine the economic benefits and costs of providing wireless high-speed broadband access to Montgomery and Wheeler Counties. The applicant indicates that there is limited access to broadband connectivity...the majority having slow dial-up access or limited DSL access in the more urban areas. Specifically, Georgia Tech's TechSmart program will work with the community leadership and stakeholders to develop a technology roadmap, filling in the gaps in broadband internet access to maximize its economic impacts. Camvera Networks has been engaged to review and determine potential sites for antennas and towers necessary to deliver high-speed Internet access across a regional Broadband network. Both the private and public sector indicate the need for dependable and low cost broadband access as essential to development of the region's economic development capacity.
E 9-1-1 funds to assist with the purchase/rehabilitation of a regional E 9-1-1 center, including the purchase of dispatching and radio equipment to serve the 17,973 residents of these two Tier 1 counties of Telfair and Wheeler. The center will be located in the city McRae with a 35-mile radius coverage area. There will be nine new positions created.
Equity funds to assist with improvements to new industrial park by providing water, sewer, access roadway and drainage improvements to the new site.