Valued at approximately $33.5 million, the new facility is anticipated to create 200 new jobs after it starts up, according to a press release from Gov. Nathan Deal’s office. Approximately 250 pre-existing jobs will be moving to the county as well, as Surya will be moving personnel from offices in Calhoun.
The first Bartow-Cartersville Joint Development Authority approved a memorandum of understanding with the company during a called meeting Thursday morning. Surya will receive a 15-year real property abatement and five-year abatement for personal property, according to Cartersville Assistant City Attorney Keith Lovell. Lovell also stated the company plans to have the facility complete by Aug. 1, 2015.
Before the first JDA approved its action, County Administrator Peter Olson stressed that Bartow did not attempt to “poach” the jobs from Gordon County.
“I’d like to comment if I could, Mr. Chairman — we did not poach these folks from Gordon County. They approached Bartow. They were looking to leave their facility, which is too small, and so we’re glad to keep them in the region,” he said.
Cartersville-Bartow County Economic Development Executive Director Melinda Lemmon said the new building would bring Surya’s administrative, supply chain, sales, web and creative development staff under one roof, which is not possible at its current facilities.
“This is all under one roof. It’s designed specifically for their function. Frankly there’s more functionality to it as well. It perfectly meets their needs as opposed to buildings — the buildings they have are very nice, but are pre-existing,” she said.
According to the governor’s office press release, Surya is “an India-based company that makes machine and hand-knotted rugs and sells soft goods for the home furnishings market.” The items are made abroad and then shipped to the U.S. for sales and distribution.
Describing Surya’s operation as a collection of “really nice white-collar jobs,” Lemmon said she was pleased with the company’s relocation to Bartow County.
“We’ve worked with this company for a long time. With all due respect to our neighbors in Gordon County, we’ve worked with this company since they’ve come to us and said, ‘We need to be closer to Atlanta. Your community is a great fit. We’ve identified some areas we want to look at with you,’” she said.
The roughly 75 acres of land Surya will build on is not part of Highland 75 proper. The acreage is to the west of the business park and was rezoned from agricultural use to commercial during a Dec. 4, 2013, commissioner meeting. However, Lemmon said the company would follow the Highland 75 covenants and join the owners’ association.
“It was very important to us actually that that look and feel and be part of one neighborhood, one employment center,” she said. “So we invited — essentially invited — them to be part of the neighborhood, and I’m so grateful they were open to that idea and will build to similar design standards and be part of the owners’ association and participate with us and all the things the owners of the park will do.”
Lemmon added after the meeting Surya has already selected a contractor and hiring plans will not be made until the company nears completion of its facility.
After approving all Surya-related business, the first JDA recognized Existing Industries Director Rachel Rowell, who will be leaving Bartow for a director position in Polk County’s economic development department later this month. JDA members and city representatives thanked Rowell for her work.
“I’ve had the great pleasure of watching you for 10 years now, almost, grow into the role, and I told [Information Specialist Connie Salter] this yesterday, you’re ready to lead your own ship,” said JDA Chair James Jarrett. “Although we’re a little concerned about the competition, I’m extremely excited about the fact that we’re helping to build the economic progress of our region.”
Rowell thanked the board members for their kind words.
“It was a good opportunity. ... I have a few more bosses than I do now. They have a board of commissioners over there and two city councils,” she said. “... I very much appreciate the time I’ve had here working with all of y’all. It’s been a great experience. ... I consider you all friends and know I may call on you soon. ... So I very much appreciate it. Thank you.”
The first JDA then adjourned and the second JDA immediately called a meeting to approve a mirrored version of the first JDA’s agenda, including the Surya MOU. The second JDA also approved an easement for company to connect Surya’s property to Great Valley Parkway.
Both JDAs also handled the following business:
• Approved right of entry for Surya to temporarily store soil on Highland 75 property.
• Approved a change in the department bank administrator by adding Salter to the list to replace Rowell.
• Heard updates on the business park and economic development department.
The first JDA’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 15, at noon at the Clarence Brown Conference Center. The second JDA is not expected to meet again until later this year.