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Bulloch building industry welcomes 'Islands' project
W BIZ ISLANDS 5
      Statesboro's construction industry has received a much needed "shot in the arm" from a major student housing project being built on Lanier Drive just outside of the Veterans Memorial Parkway.
       Phase one of The Islands is well underway as 24 duplexes, five single family homes, and a clubhouse are slated to be completed on 14 acres before students return for school in the fall.
       "For us at the Howard Lumber Company, this has been a true blessing with the economy and business as it has been," said Jeff Edwards, associate general manager of the Howard Lumber Company in Statesboro. "We are very, very thankful to have the opportunity to supply lumber, doors, roofing materials, windows, nails, house wrap, and the like. I can't stress how thankful we are to have this construction project be a local endeavor."
       The development's owner is Statesboro resident Bill Nguyen. Shy and unassuming, Nguyen opted for his project manager, local engineer Joey Maxwell to speak on his behalf.
       "Mr. Nguyen saw an opportunity to get excellent pricing on this construction project at this time," said Maxwell, owner of Maxwell Reddick Engineering and Surveying in Statesboro. "He also saw the state of the building industry in Statesboro, and knew that there were a lot of construction workers without work. That is why he decided to use only local suppliers/vendors and local labor. He wanted to leave his money here in Statesboro. This community means a tremendous amount to him."
       Maxwell and Edwards aren't the only two praising the timing of The Islands.
       "Let me be the first to tell you that this project is keeping people employed," said Jason Moore, director of sales for Ken-Brick Masonry Supply headquartered in Statesboro. "This is a very large job, and a project that has really helped us tremendously. Because of this project, we have not had to lay employees off. I would like to thank Mr. Nguyen personally for sticking with local companies. It really has meant the world to a number of businesses."
       With between 150 and 200 people a day working on the job site, it is easy to see how excited people are to be working in an industry that has seen an unprecedented slump nationwide.
       Chad Knight, a framer working for framing subcontractor Quick Construction, is one of those glad to have a job at this time. "I had been out of work for the last three months until this came along," Knight said. "I have gone to Florida and Hilton Head to find work, mostly remodeling jobs. I had been picking at the bottom of the barrel. When I got the call two weeks ago to come work on this job, I was so grateful."
       It has taken the efforts of two local general contractors to bring the project this far along.
       "It does look like orchestrated chaos at times, but we have come a very long way in just three short weeks when we started," said Matt Phillips, owner of Phillips Designer Homers and the general contractor overseeing the construction side of the development. "Another local general contractor John Lamar is serving as the site supervisor, so between the two of us and a great group of hardworking, local subcontractors, we have been able to make this happen very quickly. All that I can say is that I never thought we would have come this far, this fast. It is a testament as to how hungry everyone is for work in the construction industry."
       Phillips said there are crews working six days a week on 12 hour shifts. "You can come out here anytime during the daylight, and there will be people working," he said. We hope to have the construction side completed by the first week or so in June. Then comes landscaping, paving, and all of the rest."
       Maxwell said once 90 percent of the units are leased, Nguyen plans to authorize the construction of phase two which will be on the back 17 acres of the parcel that has been set aside for The Islands. "If all goes as planned there would be about another six months or so of work in the building of phase two which would be just a little larger than this initial phase. Again, that would bring much needed relief to a slumping local construction industry. It's like having a stimulus package generated at a local level."
       This past Friday, the rental office for the Islands was open to the public. It is adjacent to the development and can be accessed directly from Lanier Drive.