Waycross is in the running to be the site for development by a major industry at the Waycross-Ware County Industrial Park.
Jason Rubenbauer, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Waycross-Ware County Development Authority, said at a recent luncheon meeting of the Waycross Exchange Club that the city is among three being considered by a developer for locating an operation in the park.
Rubenbauer said if chosen, the area would see a $750 million investment in the construction of a 2.5 million square-foot facility with more than 1,400 jobs. The administrator said although other sites are being considerd, he’s optimistic the development will be here.
Rubenbauer, who was named to WWDA post last fall and began work on November 1, said a phone call from a man in Ireland in early December set the ball in motion for the possible economic investment in the area.
After being introduced by Ware County Sheriff Carl James, the club’s program chairman for February, Rubenbauer handed out a new brochure promoting Waycross and Ware County.
“Simply put, it’s the promotion of Waycross and Ware County,” said Rubenbauer, who formerly was Pierce County Manager.
He said he is the person who works with existing businesses and industries to make sure they have what they need to continue being successful in our community; to keep creating jobs for each one of us and our youth coming behind us.
He said he works very closely with folks like Dr. Lynn Barber, CTAE Director of the Ware County School System, along with others in the educational system to make sure the area has the talent pipeline ready to serve the existing businesses and industries, and others interested in locating here.
He said he does a lot of traveling to promote the area. Earlier this month, he was part of a delegation that included members of local government as well as business and civic leaders in Atlanta supporting the Okefenokee Swamp.
The swamp is being nominated as a World Heritage site, and that is going to be a huge recruitment tool for our community when it comes to economic development because of the tourism it brings to our area.
“Every time we put something on social media or a website or we get noticed because of the fact that we have a state championship team, whether it’s golf, football, or whatever it may be, that’s a selling point for this community,” he said.
Rubenbauer is originally from the midwest, being born in Marshtown, Iowa. He lived on a farm until he joined the Navy, spending four years in California.
After four years of service, he said he was headed back home to take over the family farm until his father and grandfather intervened with some sage advice.
He said they looked him in the eye and said, “Son, now is not the time.”
It was the 1990s and the farm economy was terrible. So, he landed in Savannah, Ga., a place he’d never been to before.
“I heard a lot about it in movies and stuff like that, so I figured I’d go ahead and see what the East Coast was all about,” Rubenbauer related. “I spent a couple of years there and then started work for the Department of Corrections. I then had the pleasure of coming and working on the Pierce County Jail addition. While there I got bored.”
A part-time job at Applebee’s then had a major impact on his life.
“I met my wife, Tammy, who’d been there since before they laid the first brick and we’ve been together ever since,” he said.
The couple have been together for 20 years and have three children — Chelsea, Graceland, and Spencer — along with granddaughters “that rule our world.”
Photo By DANNY BARTLETT
Jason Rubenbauer, Executive Director of the Waycross-Ware County Development Authority, offered an update on the prospects of economic development in the area during a recent luncheon of the Waycross Exchange Club. Rubenbauer was presented a can of Exchange Club peanuts from club president, Craig Head as Ware County Sheriff Carl James, who introduced Rubenbauer, and president-elect George Barnhill look on.
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