Last year’s investment figures come from the expansion, relocation and new construction of 19 companies creating 1,698 permanent or long-term temporary jobs.
The Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development, established in its current capacity in 2004, also reached significant milestones with the developments taking place in 2012. Since its inception nine years ago, the department has recorded the expansion and recruitment of 100 companies adding up to more than $3 billion in estimated investments.
“At the beginning of 2012, I saw how close we were to the $3 billion mark and saw that as a pretty exciting milestone we might be able to meet in 2012,” said Melinda Lemmon, executive director of the Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development. “Comparing to past years, how did we do in 2012 as a community? These 19 companies created 698 permanent jobs for this community, 1,000 construction jobs that will have a multi-year duration at Plant Bowen and $832.5 million in new capitol investment in Bartow County.
“Not only did we exceed that $3 billion mark, but we exceeded it greatly thanks to the growth of these companies. So there are good things coming in Bartow County, not the least of which are those jobs, either the multi-year construction jobs or the permanent jobs for our neighbors, our friends and our family that need them, because our unemployment rate is still way too high.”
The $832 million recorded for 2012’s economic impact elevated it to one of the department’s best years, behind 2006 and 2010. Each of the top three years for capitol investment included a keystone project claiming the majority of that year’s investment total. In 2006, it was Georgia Power Plant Bowen’s scrubber installation; in 2010, it was Toyo Tire’s $910 million bond resolution; and in 2012, Georgia Power again committed to a large environmental control project for the construction of a bag house to cost $700 million obtained through a bond resolution in December with the Bartow County Development Authority.
Last year’s 19 projects were mostly existing industry, with eight companies committing to expansion plans, including Georgia Power Plant Bowen. Six others were relocations to leased or purchased buildings and five were new construction, including voestalpine and Bass Pro Shops.
“Some expansions were just two jobs, but they were extraordinary in their growth for their individual company, they were helped by some incentivizers to those in our community and show great promise to continue growing,” Lemmon said. “The largest was [Georgia Power’s] $700 million project, so existing industry is still where our proverbial bread is buttered and they are the reason we need to continue our 175 years of manufacturing excellence.”
Lemmon referred in her presentation to the anniversary celebrated last year of Bartow County’s first iron furnace, the development that began an industry and a legacy of manufacturing in Bartow. Existing Industries Director Rachel Rowell gave those in attendance for Tuesday’s annual report a brief history, from Stroup’s iron works in 1837 to ATCO Mills and today’s new crop of industry leaders, including Shaw, Georgia Power, Anheuser-Busch and Toyo Tire, just to name a few.
“Bartow County celebrated 175 years of manufacturing in 2012 thanks to pioneer furnace builder and iron master Jacob Stroup who is credited with establishing the iron industry in Bartow County,” Rowell said. “Today, we have more than 130 manufacturers that call Bartow County home and employ more than 23 percent of our workforce.”
The governing board of the Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development is the Cartersville-Bartow County Joint Development Authority. Chairman of the JDA James Jarrett preceeded the presentation, sharing a positive outlook for Bartow County’s economic future.
“It’s encouraging to see the level of activity that we’ve had this past year,” Jarrett said. “I have a lot of confidence in our staff and our community, and I think the numbers will show that we have some good things going on and I believe the activity will pick up even more in the next couple years as we continue to recover and become even more competitive in this environment.”