Development authorities in Georgia are special-purpose governments that provide certain services to the community on behalf of the local governing body. Their purpose is to promote the development of industry, commerce, and trade, as well as to increase employment opportunities. Development Authority Law created a development authority for each city and county in the state. The development authorities only become active through a resolution passed by the local governing body. Although JDA’s have been around since 1969, why they exist, how they are created and what powers they have is not widely understood.
About Our Four-County Joint Development Authority
The Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton & Walton Counties began as a concept in 1998 between Newton and Walton Counties. In 1999 an agreement between the four counties was adopted (by the Board Of Commissioners of each county) and the JDA became a reality. The goal of the JDA was to create an industrial area to attract bio-science industries.
In October of 2000, The Joint Development Authority (JDA) of Jasper, Morgan, Newton & Walton Counties purchased approximately 1,600 acres south of I-20. With this purchase, a research park known as Stanton Springs was born. According to the original design, it would be contain business/light industrial, commercial, office space, a residential section, and a town center.
In 2012 Baxter Pharmaceuticals announced they would construct a manufacturing facility within Stanton Springs. So far, so good. Fast forward a few years and Stanton Springs becomes home of several Facebook data centers. Not the original plan, but acceptable.
This map shows the conceptual design of the original development.
Then the unthinkable happens!
During a press conference in December of 2021, Governor Brian Kemp, flanked by members of our JDA, announces that a 20 million sqft electric vehicle factory will be built on 2,000 acres of farm land 50 miles east of Atlanta. Or as the JDA refers to it – Stanton Springs North.
How did this happen?
Well, we owe that to a legal contract known as a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). We now believe that from as far back as possibly late 2020, the JDA representatives and State Economic Directors had been talking with Rivian about building their new factory in Stanton Springs North. However, the community didn’t find out about those plans until it was announced at Governor Kemp’s press conference in December 2021. You see, our JDA member’s and Board of Commissioners all signed NDA’s to keep this under wraps. To this day there are questions the public deserves to have answered, but cannot due to the cover the NDA’s provide.
And it isn’t just happening in rural Georgia!