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Boost for Waynesboro will boost region
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      The economy of neighboring Waynesboro (Burke County) is getting a much needed "shot in the arm" from a huge construction project that is headed our way. Elba Express, a subsidiary of the El Paso Corporation is in the process of constructing its new 190-mile Elba Express interstate natural gas pipeline which is going to run through Chatham, Effingham, Screven, Jenkins, Burke, Jefferson, Glascock, Warren, McDuffie, Wilkes, Elbert, and Hart Counties, Georgia, joining the Transco Pipeline in Anderson County, South Carolina.
    With a total capacity of approximately 1.2 billion cubic feet per day, the new pipeline will increase natural gas transportation capacity from the Elba Island liquefied natural gas terminal near Savannah to markets in Georgia and, through interconnections with other pipelines, to the southeastern and eastern United States.
    Burke County Chamber of Commerce executive Director Ashley Roberts said the pipeline project has brought an estimated 600 people working on the project to the Waynesboro area.
    "Back in April, all of these people just sort of showed up," Roberts said. "We started to get phone calls from people, a number of them from Texas, asking about apartments, hotels, etc. We really weren't expecting this at all. It just hit us out of the blue."
    Roberts said the project has not created jobs directly associated with it, as its construction is very specialized and the company brought their own crews, but the direct impact of having that many people requiring day-to-day living support has been tremendous.
    "I don't want people to get the impression that you can get 'on' with this company, because it is my understanding that jobs aren't available with them per se, but it has created local opportunities," she said. "Our service related industries are seeing as much as a 50 percent increase in their business, and they have been hiring to meet that demand."
    Roberts said that local restaurants, laundromats, convenience stores, dry cleaners, grocery stores, and lodging have all seen a tremendous increase in sales.
    "Literally, it has just been amazing," she said. "Plant Vogel is going to begin construction on its two new reactors in the next two years which we are told will bring 3,000 to 4,000 people to this area to work on that project over a five year period. This has become sort of an unexpected way to prepare for that."
    The good news for us, construction is headed this way. The pipeline is going to run through Jenkins County then along the Bulloch County - Screven County Border (in Screven) towards Effingham just north of Oliver.
    It is not clear if those working on it are going to relocate from Waynesboro to this area, but you have to think that Screven and Bulloch stand to see some impact from it.
    Residents along Highway 24 East report large numbers of tractor trailers hauling railroad ties towards Oliver. These railroad ties will be supporting the large equipment digging and placing the pipeline.
    So, I say, come on "pipeline guys", we're ready for you. We have hotels, restaurants, movie theaters, a water park, and shopping. You are just going to love it here!
    To read more about the Elba Express, you can visit their website at www.elpaso.com/elba3/elbaexpress. The Elba Express is owned by the El Paso Corporation (NYSE: EP) which owns North America's largest interstate natural gas pipeline system—approximately 42,000 miles—transporting more than a quarter of the natural gas consumed in the country each day.
     So, until next Tuesday, I bid you au revoir.
Got a scoop for Jan? Call her at (912) 489-9463 or email her at jmoore@statesboroherald.com