Investments from MJC Inc. and Lidl US top the list of major economic developments that came to Bartow last year, pushing the total number of new capital investments in the county to an estimated $147.9 million.
Those investments are expected to keep 110 jobs in the county, as well as create an additional 304 jobs in Bartow over the next few years. The numbers were unveiled by the Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development (CBCDOED) Tuesday at their annual economic progress report at the Clarence Brown Conference Center.
MJC Inc. — which primarily designs and manufactures heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems — was founded in 1989 and is based out of Acworth.
"We are excited to be able to welcome MJC in Cartersville, as they have purchased and are renovating their facility at 415 Grassdale Road," said Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development Executive Director Melinda Lemmon. "They will continue to create custom HVAC equipment in that facility."
According to broker NAI Brannen Goddard, MJC Inc. bought the 168,000-square-foot warehouse for a little more than $4 million last October.
Lemmon said there is no official timeframe for when the renovated MJC facility in Cartersville will open, nor an exact estimate for how many jobs it will bring to the community.
"MJC is part of several smaller projects that will be reported in aggregate," she said. "There aren't job and investment specifics with that, but we are glad to welcome them to the existing industry family in Bartow County."
Lidl, a grocery chain based out of Germany with more than 10,000 stores in Europe and the United States, announced last June they will build a regional distribution center in the Highland 75 industrial park off Cass-White Road. The facility is tabbed at $100 million and is anticipated to create 250 jobs over the next five years.
"Obviously, the marketing strategy for them is get the retail stores in Georgia up and running and then the distribution center that will serve them will be carefully coordinated with that timeline," Lemmon said.
The BCDOED's final investments tally also includes jobs created and retained by the Georgia Department of Transportation District 6 Headquarters in Bartow and expansions at Anheuser-Busch, Toyo Tire North America and Vista Metals.
2017's new investments sum is slightly lower than 2016 ($155.7 million) but an increase over 2015 ($93.1 million.)
Since 2004, the Bartow-Cartersville Joint Development Authority — which directs the CBCDOED — has supported 157 projects, which combined, have resulted in more than 12,000 new jobs and more than $5 billion in new capital investments in the county.
Lemmon said that Bartow posted its highest employment rate in well more than 15 years in the fourth quarter of 2017.
"Our overall labor force, just in Bartow County, has exceeded 50,000 people," she said.
To sustain growth, Lemmon encouraged businesses to begin thinking in terms of "labor draw areas" — not just in-county residents, but the potential commuters in contiguous counties as well. She said Bartow's labor draw area — which includes the county, plus Cobb, Cherokee, Floyd, Gordon, Paulding, Pickens and Polk — is home to nearly 800,000 workers and an estimated 29,000 people unemployed and actively seeking employment.
"Our labor force drives an average of 28 miles to and from work everyday, so if you do a 30-minute drive time, for conversation's sake, you're picking up this workforce," she said. "There are some creative things we can do in helping our companies connect — the actual hands-on connections are still going to have to be through the Department of Labor and through our staffing services, but I'm very excited that, strategically, we can help our employers think a little differently about how to find particular skill sets."
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