Soil additives company to plant roots in county; sale in industrial park finalized last week
Gary Lanier, director of the Columbus County Economic Development Commission, talks to Jay Memula, right, of Jay Technologies about the future layout of a facility where soils will be mixed with specialty additives in the agri-business and horticulture industry. At left is Les High, chair of the Columbus Jobs Foundation, which owns the industrial park.
Raleigh-based agricultural businessman Sadanand “Jay” Memula has purchased a 30-acre tract of land in the Southeastern Regional Industrial Park with a multi-year plan to build a center for the manufacture of soil additives for horticultural products.
“It means jobs,” Columbus County Economic Development Director Gary Lanier said, adding that the company is a good fit with the local agricultural heritage and existing economy.
“This is the first sale of property for a new business we’ve had at the park since 2013, when MaxPro window tinting bought the Committee of 100 shell building,” said Columbus Jobs Foundation Chair Les High, who is also The News Reporter’s publisher. “With Memula’s unique business plan based on extensive experience, High said, “we believe the company is poised for growth.”
For Memula, the decision to go into business in Columbus County was a long time coming.
“The line was always a moving target,” Memula said, who recounts his conversations with Lanier going back several years. “I was contacting the different regions because of proximity to Wilmington and Charleston [S.C.]”
“It’s similar to many economic development projects, that they just sometimes take time for everything to come together,” Lanier said.
The purchase is part of a long-term plan that includes an operational facility at the old Fair Bluff Armory. In Fair Bluff, Jay Technologies is manufacturing bacteria-killing materials that go into hand sanitizers and cleaning agents.
“He really needed a building he could start up in, and we were able to find out the armory building in Fair Bluff was on a state surplus list and help get him in contact with the right folks to be able to purchase that building,” Lanier said. The Fair Bluff space gives Memula both office and lab space.
Eventually, the plan is to have research and development at the future Southeastern Regional Industrial Park facility, then move into manufacturing “in two to three years,” Memula said.
The sale of the 30-acre tract finalized last week, Memula said. Financial details of the property sale were not immediately available.
“We are trying to clear the land first, probably in the next six months,” Memula said.
Memula said he will make his agricultural soil additives to sell directly to large farmers. Lanier called Memula one of the smartest men he’s ever met and noted his extensive background in horticulture.
“If he starts a business up and starts to get some good traction, there’s no telling how far he can take a business,” Lanier said.
Initially, Memula plans on adding at least 10–12 jobs in Fair Bluff, then hiring additional workers once in a completed Industrial Park facility.
“As far as jobs, we have to review all the details,” Memula said.
“Hopefully he’ll get to be a big success, because the more product he can sell, the more people he’s going to need to hire,” Lanier said.
Memula could have chosen to establish Jay Technologies in Chatham County, where he owns land, Lanier said. But the economic developer credited his long-term relationship with Memula as the reason for landing the project in Columbus County.
Lanier said he will need to talk with the county commissioners about potentially providing an incentive package for Jay Technologies once more details about the company’s local investment are clear.
“I know our Economic Development Commission board has recommended that we move forward with an incentive package,” Lanier said.
“Incentives are always things that people are looking at, because it’s a big investment to establish a business and buy buildings and renovate buildings,” Lanier said. If neighboring states and counties offer incentives and Columbus County doesn’t do the same, he said, it makes economic development tough.
The Columbus County Commissioners are “extremely supportive” of economic development and job creation, Lanier said.
“They’ve told me many times, ‘We need the jobs; do what it takes,’” Lanier said.