Savannah River Site’s nuclear technology is an economic stronghold that will lead the area into a bright future, capitalizing on existing business and attracting future growth, regional leaders agreed Thursday night.
Several municipalities focused on the area’s main economic engines including Savannah River Site, Fort Gordon and Plant Vogtle at the State of the Region forum held at the North Augusta Community Center.The event was sponsored by chambers of commerce from Augusta, North Augusta, Aiken and Columbia County.
Fred Dohse, the executive vice president and chief operating officer of Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, said SRS is positioned to develop new nuclear technologies that aid national security. The American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009 forced considerable change that helped reduce nuclear materials and radioactive waste, said Dohse, the event’s keynote speaker.
“We have the capabilities to solve some of our nation’s unresolved issues,” he said. “Our ability to innovate and create lasting nuclear technology solutions is a true testament to the workforce at the site and a legacy to the site veterans and those who work out there today.”
In 2011, the economic impact of SRS to the Augusta area was $1.42 billion. Stimulus money supported thousands of jobs that allowed 10 years of work to be completed in 30 months, Dohse said.
North Augusta Mayor Lark Jones said new restaurants and stores are stabilizing the city and contributing to the regional economy.
“In the last year or two, we are getting more investment in projects in North Augusta,” he said.
Capital projects funded by sales tax III will also help improve the area. A new public safety headquarters and substation, park projects and road improvements are coming in the next seven years, Jones said.
Aiken County gained new medical emergency service stations, library branches and health department, said Aiken County Council chairman Ronnie Young. To aid the massive expansion of Bridgestone/Firestone, several new roads were built in the Sage Valley Industrial Park.
Edgefield County Council chairman Dean Campbell said manufacturer expansions tallied the most economic development his county has had in six years.