Reviewing progress made in 2010, Executive Director of the Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development Melinda Lemmon cited figures showing growth over the past year including more than twice as many industrial buildings sold or leased in 2010 than the year before. Twenty-four buildings were sold or leased last year as opposed to only 11 in 2009 for a difference in excess of more than 1.3 million square foot of industrial floor space.
"We've had some challenges in Bartow County but we're starting to see some trends in 2010 and hopefully in 2011," Lemmon said. "I think that this type of growth and trends from our existing companies that are not only holding steady but starting to add jobs back, is very encouraging news."
Growth over the past year in existing industries was significant in Bartow with 12 industrial expansions from three companies announced in 2010 expected to produce 1,141 jobs with more than $925 million in capital investment. Three of the 12 projects come from a single company expected soon to make a public announcement of the progress.
In addition to expansions, five formal commitments were made including two new manufacturing developments and two warehouse and distribution centers. Estimates from all 17 projects forecast the addition of 1,501 new jobs and more than $955 million in capital investments.
"Seventeen commitments were made in 2010 to create jobs and expand our tax base," Lemmon said. "In several of these cases it will take many years for this to be implemented but the point is that in 2010, commitments were made and these job projections and capital investments was provided to us. We're very proud of these 17 projects and really all we've done is facilitate some great things that our existing and new companies are doing."
The 1,501 manufacturing jobs expected to come from 2010 growth is the largest single year gain since data has been collected with the creation of the Cartersville-Bartow County Joint Development Authority in 2004. The only manufacturing job losses recorded in the report was 229 jobs affected by the Mohawk closure leaving Bartow County with an overall increase of 1,272 jobs.
An update on Highland 75, the JDA's master planned industrial park, was given by John Watson, principal with TPA Realty Services. Although no land has been sold in the park, work has been done to prepare for an upswing in the economic winds.
"While the economy stood still, we tried not to last year. We focused on working with the SPLOST dollars associated with the infrastructure," Watson said. "We completed 4,000 linear feet of divided median parkway, sewer, water, natural gas. Everything necessary for industrial development is at our doorstep and in the right-of-way and immediately prepared for development when clients or customers arrive."
Following the annual report, a presentation was given by Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development Intern Tyler Edwards dissecting data related to various economic factors. Through unemployment figures, home prices, income levels and other data, Edwards showed how the depth and breadth of the recession will make a lasting impression even as a recovery begins.
"I don't know of many places that have been able to escape this recession but Bartow County has not been one of them. We are seeing signs to give us hope but we have taken our hit so we're not out of this mess yet. 2010 has been promising but it's one year," Edwards said. "One year is enough to make me hopeful but not enough to get up here and wave the victory flag. But what we can take from this is that Bartow is not in all of this alone, its taken its hits but as I've shown, our neighboring counties are facing similar trials."