What Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor referred to as one of the state’s “worst kept secrets of economic development” was officially made public Thursday afternoon, as representatives of Chick-fil-A formally announced their plans to build a distribution center off Cass-White Road.
The investment from Chick-fil-A Supply, LLC, was made at a public Development Authority of Bartow County meeting held at the Clarence Brown Conference Center, which was also the site of a Bartow-Cartersville Joint Development Authority public meeting that same afternoon.
“It’s a great location that allows us great access to the interstate,” said Chick-fil-A Supply Chain/Distribution Executive Director Paul Trotti. “It’s been a great opportunity to help us explore the potential partnership as we think about being located in the northern part of Atlanta. It gives us access to a lot of restaurant density for Chick-fil-A restaurants.”
News broke last month that Chick-fil-A D2 Services, LLC, paid almost $4 million for roughly 50 acres of land near the Cartersville Business Park.
Trotti said construction on the project, which is expected to create about 300 new jobs, will begin within 30 days.
“We will plan to serve up to 300 Chick-fil-A restaurants out of this location, out of our first full-scale distribution center, and we will use the full allotment of the land that we’ve acquired there to do so,” he said. “We hope to open our first pilot facility and begin shipping cases in the summer of 2019, and we hope to open the first full-scale distribution center by the summer of 2020.”
At that meeting, the Development Authority of Bartow County approved an agenda item allowing the organization to serve as an issuer of bonds for the project, through either memorandums of understanding (MOUs) or inducements.
“This will be authorizing the authority to enter into certain documents with Chick-fil-A Supply, LLC, for the purpose of their acquisition, construction, installation, [and] equipping of a facility that will be located out along Cass-White Road,” said the authority’s legal counsel, H. Boyd Pettit, III. “And to issue bonds in an amount — I believe I have seen — up to $45 million in connection with that. Chances are, the bond issuance will be a little less than that.”
Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development Executive Director Melinda Lemmon said additional funding sources will be sought for the development.
“It is fully our intent to pursue grant-related support from the State of Georgia related to this project, and this authority would also be a conduit for that,” she said.
Trotti, however, did not comment on what sort of grants Chick-fil-A may be pursuing as part of the project.
“We’re excited about the contributions from the State of Georgia in connection with this project, and helping us facilitate that here,” Pettit said. “So we all look forward to entering into those documents with the State, as well.”
Both Taylor and Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini were on hand for the announcement.
“Our values in Bartow County are similar to Chick-fil-A’s, I think,” Taylor said. “They have a lot of integrity, and that’s exactly the kind of company that we want here in this community.”
“I think one of the things that makes us a great place to be is that we don’t worry about boundaries an awful lot, so what’s good for the county’s going to be good for the city and what’s good for the city is going to be good for the county,” said Santini. “We’re a community that works together for the betterment of everybody.”
As Chick-fil-A remains in the planning and developmental stages of the distribution center, Trotti said an estimate of the development’s total cost has not yet been projected. However, he did state that the completed distribution center would likely top out at about 200,000 square feet.
“The first thing we want to focus on is providing tremendous service to Chick-fil-A operators and team members. We will always continue to explore innovative technologies that can help provide that level of service and care as we move forward,” Trotti said. “The location that we’ve selected for the first distribution center has great access to the highway, so being located right off I-75 is really important to us, to be able to get to the highest density of Chick-fil-A restaurants that we wanted to serve in the northern Georgia area, and also parts of northern Atlanta, as well.”
Bartow-Cartersville Joint Development Authority legal counsel Keith Lovell said that, as part of the project, an incubator space at the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce will be subleased to Chick-fil-A, a measure Pettit said would allow the company to have “a presence here in the community while construction is underway.”
According to a press release sent by the Office of Gov. Brian Kemp, the distribution center will open as a pilot facility this summer, with a full-scale distribution center being constructed nearby.
“Today is an exciting day a we announce that Chick-fil-A — one of our state’s most successful companies and a hometown favorite — will create 300 brand new jobs for hardworking Georgians in Bartow County,” Gov. Kemp is quoted in the release. “To be able to say that Georgia is now home to Chick-fil-A’s first ever company-owned distribution facility is a big win for us and highlights our world-class logistics infrastructure. I am thrilled that Chick-fil-A will also take advantage of our Quick Start program to provide workforce training for new hires.”
According to Chick-fil-A representatives, the new distribution center will employ drivers, warehouse workers, leadership team members and administrative staff.