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Proximity to port fuels growth in Middle Georgia

Proximity to port fuels growth in Middle Georgia

Region showcases variety of industry, agriculture and quality of life

Wednesday, November 6, 2019/Categories: Economic Impact, Blog

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Situated squarely in the heartland of the state, the Middle Georgia Region showcases the variety of industry, agriculture and quality of life that has helped make Georgia a magnet for growth. Anchored by Macon-Bibb County, the region boasts direct interstate access between Atlanta and the dynamic Port of Savannah, facilitating both import and export ventures.

Indeed, Middle Georgia success stories feature companies across the globe — from Embraer jets in Brazil to the Freudenberg Group in Germany, from Kumho Tire in South Korea to Japanese manufacturers Nichiha and YKK.

Fiscal 2018 was a busy year of economic growth for the entire region, according to Laura Mathis, executive director of the Middle Georgia Regional Commission, who said several factors contribute to the area’s success story.

“We benefit today from planning and investment that happened decades ago with the development of the interstate system and rail network,” Mathis said. “And developable land along the interstate corridor is still plentiful in the region, something that’s very attractive to businesses that utilize the Port of Savannah.” 

Georgia’s Regional Commissions (RC) function as the official regional and development organizations for local governments and citizens. Each Regional Commission Council creates policy direction for the area’s short- and long-term comprehensive planning and serves as liaisons between regional communities and the state government.

Up-and-coming retailer Five Below, partnering with IDI Logistics to build in Monroe County, is the latest in a long line of warehouse/distribution facilities choosing to locate along the I-75 corridor, Mathis said, adding that the port is also critical to rural counties. “Wilkinson County, for example, is a leading kaolin exporter and a very important customer of the ports.”

For Bibb County, Amazon was the most recent headliner with a new fulfillment center relocating to Macon. Upon completion, the facility will create 500 full-time jobs, with up to 1,000 workers employed in peak season. Irving Consumer Products, a Canadian based company, will also be one of Macon-Bibb’s newest industrial residents, bringing 200 new jobs and $400 million in private investment with its facial tissue manufacturing facility.

“We have been on a record-setting pace with regards to industrial growth in Macon-Bibb County over the last several years,” said Robby Fountain, chairman of the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority. “Just in the last 26 months, we have generated over $800 million in new private investment from new and existing industries in all our target industrial sectors — including aerospace, advanced manufacturing, logistics and food processing.

“This success can be directly attributed to the growth at the Port of Savannah.”

Stephen Adams agreed. As executive director of the industrial authority, he pointed to the region’s assets — including job force, location and the Port of Savannah. “Our proximity to the port is vital to our business operations,” he said. “It’s something that we include in all our marketing materials. That direct shot from I-16 into the port is a real asset.”

OTHER ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT HIGHLIGHTS IN THE MIDDLE GEORGIA REGION: 

In Houston County, just south of Macon, Robins Air Force Base is the single largest industrial complex in Georgia, employing a workforce of over 25,584 civilian, contractor, and military members. In Peach County, Pure Flavor, is building a 75-acre high-tech greenhouse outside of Fort Valley. Pure Flavor will also add over 200 new jobs once it is fully operational, while also providing new food production for the region. Crawford County announced the creation of 30 new jobs with the location of Bradbury Logistics, LLC in the county’s small business incubator facility. In Jefferson, Texas-based Academy Sports + Outdoors employs nearly 900 people in its 1.6 million-square-foot Twiggs County Distribution Center.

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