The Savannah Economic Development Authority ended its year on a high note Tuesday as it announced records for capital investments, jobs and company expansions during 2017 making it the best year for the organization since 2012.
In 2017, SEDA played a role in 19 expansions and announcements, three more than in 2016 and four more than their five year average. The full list of expansion projects will be presented during SEDA’s annual meeting in January.
The year also brought more than 1,000 new job opportunities, which also outpaced last year and the five year average.
The big story from the yearly numbers, according to SEDA president and CEO Trip Tollison is the capital investment the organization helped create, which was just under $500 million, an increase of about $276,111,000 compared to 2016.
“It’s been a great year on all measurements,” Tollison said during the final board meeting of the year.
The Savannah film industry accounted for $61 million of the capital investment across 100 professional productions and 161 student productions, both production numbers were down slightly from 2016. The economic impact for filming is level with 2016, bringing in $130 million this year.
While this year’s film numbers largely mirrored 2016, Tollison said the organization is preparing for a busy 2018 and remains focused on attracting television series to the area, which contribute to long term growth since they typically film for longer periods of time and return year after year. Most recently Savannah was the backdrop for the WGN America series “Underground,” which filmed two seasons here until its cancellation earlier this year.
“Next year is going to be so much better than what we did this year. It’s going to be off the charts,” Tollison said, adding that several productions have already signed on for 2018, including, what he said will be the largest movie in the history of filmmaking in Savannah.
Tollison attributes the successful year to the dedication of the SEDA organization and the overall good health of the nation and local economy.
“There’s been a lot of hard work from the SEDA staff and the board of directors and persistence on several projects that have taken a long time to play out,” he said.
Tollison and board chairman Steve Green also recognized four Savannah companies who are celebrating milestone anniversaries. The companies, Green said, serve as a tremendous example of what Savannah is all about.
Those honored were Derst Baking Company LLC, celebrating 150 years; Oglethorpe Marble &Granite Co., celebrating 110 years; Imperial Sugar Company, celebrating 100 years; and T.H. Guerry Lumber, celebrating 90 years.
“It’s an honor for us to be able to recognize them and bring their stories to the board and hopefully to a wider audience,” Green said. “Congratulations to all of you and thank you for staying in Savannah.”