Monday, November 17, 2008

$600m project will provide employment to 3,000 people

Dan McCue on Saturday, November 15, 2008
Dubai-based Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (Jafza) International revealed its master plan for a North American 'gateway' to be located in Orangeburg, South Carolina, one of the state's poorest counties, but one also blessed by its proximity to two major interstates and its equidistance to Charleston and Columbia.

Nearly 600 turned out for the announcement in a former cinema not far from the city's still challenged downtown – a downtown better known as the site of a 1968 race riot that left three dead and 27 injured than as a fulcrum of economic development or international trade.

Among those attending were vendors, construction contractors, real estate agents, maritime and logistics professionals, and members of the business and economic development community from throughout the state.

The $600 million (Dh2,204bn), 1,300-acre project – Jafza's first in the Western Hemisphere – will be built in five phases, with the ground-breaking for the first phase in the third or fourth quarter of 2009, said Steven Eames, Vice-President of operations for Jafza Americas.

Total built-out on the project, on the site of a former sod farm is to be completed by 2032. Although he acknowledged the ongoing financial crisis, Eames expressed confidence that the company would meet is timeline for development.

"The current economic climate has made all our clients restrict their spending," he said. "However, we are long-term investors. We remain confident that this is an opportunity to position South Carolina and ourselves for the upturn."

Jafza, is part of Economic Zones World, which is currently building logistics and R&D-driven industrial parks in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

In India, it has partnered with Tata Group, one of the country's largest conglomerates, to build a chain of business and logistics parks throughout the country, Eames said.

In North America, the first – $140m phase – of its South Carolina project will comprise about 135 acres of mixed-use development, with an emphasis on light manufacturing and light ind

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