ATLANTA-Last summer, industrial developer IDI (IndustrialDevelopments International), based here, finished a $9 millioninfrastructure improvement program at a 260-acre site it hadpurchased from the Monroe County Georgia development authority for$6.5 million. After spending all that money to attract companies inneed of large warehouse space, one would think that IDI's marketingprogram would be equally as rigorous. That is where the GeorgiaReady for Accelerated Development Sites Program comes in.

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At the Meridian 75 Logistics Center, 15 miles north of Macon,IDI is planning to build up to 2.9 million square feet, but inorder to attract tenants in need of one million square footfacilities, it sought out the seal of approval with the help ofGeorgia Allies, a public/private entity which administers the GRADprogram. Georgia Allies' larger mission is to promote business inthe state.

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The GRAD designation indicates that a development site has beenpre-qualified and approved for development by a third partyconsultant who works with the Georgia Allies program, says LisaWard, vice president of leasing for IDI in Atlanta. Until recently,only seven sites in the state had been approved to receive thisdesignation, including IDI’s Tradeport East Business Center inSavannah. As of March 31, 2010, IDI’s Meridian 75 Logistics Centerhas joined that list of projects.

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The third-party seal of approval is important, says Ward,"because it says that we’ve had a professional engineer review ourdocuments. Sometimes, after a big company signs a lease, it stilltakes two years before its employees can move into the building,”she says. The GRAD program is designed to prevent that kind of lagtime. Currently, IDI has 25% of the available GRAD acreage in thestate of Georgia, says Ward.

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“Even before the economy started to deteriorate, large companieswere consolidating their operations into large distributionscenters,” says Ward. That is why she thinks it is realistic toexpect to find multiple tenants needing one-million square feet.Still, at this point, there are no takers for the center.

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The IDI Meridian 75 Logistics Center is 200 miles from the portof Savannah, a selling point for businesses engaged ininternational trade, says Ward. In addition, the location allowstenants to reach about 70 million people in the US by truck withina day's travel, so this makes for a good distributionlocation.”

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At IDI’s Meridian 75 Logistics Center, there is a foreign tradezone, which gives the site more viability as a distribution ormanufacturing location, says Ward. Although IDI has no tenants, atthis point for the Meridian 75 Logistics Center, “When the economycomes back, we will be well positioned to attract large users," shesays.

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