When Amir Loloi jammed his shovel into the red Georgia mud Wednesday, he may not have literally struck gold, but he nonetheless said he hit pay dirt.
"We're making a major commitment in this area," the owner and president of Loloi Inc said at the groundbreaking ceremony for his company's new distribution center along Cass-White Road. "It was close enough to Atlanta yet a little bit away so we can get the right-sized facility and we like the fact that it's right on the highway."
The Dallas, Texas-based wholesaler and designer of rugs and other home furnishings announced plans for the distribution center, which sits on about 59 acres nestled in between Peeples Valley Road and the KOA Kampgrounds, in April.
Jason Dooley, regional director of design firm Ware Malcomb, said the completed development will be about 647,000-square-feet.
"We'll have office area, conference rooms, a display area for some of their product, and then they'll have a large warehousing component that will help their distribution center with logistics across the whole Southeast," he said. "Clear height, base spacing, dock configuration, tilt-up concrete construction ... it's definitely a Class A industrial facility that's prevalent in the market now and it's a good real estate investment for the company as well as serving their needs for the long term."
Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development Executive Director Melinda Lemmon said the groundbreaking ceremony is the culmination of months of collaboration between a litany of "project end" developers — such as her own organization, the Georgia Department of Economic Development and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce — as well as a number of "property-end" stakeholders, including Ware Malcomb, Panattoni Development, Alston Construction and NAI Brannen Goddard.
"To see the construction team here today is yet another phase of this project, and it's very important to see this important milestone," she said. "This is the beginning of some visual progress that we'll enjoy following over the next several months."
As for the new distribution center's potential economic impact on Bartow, Lemmon cited projections from Chmura Economics & Analytics' JobsEQ data-crunching service.
Per her figures, the new development is expected to generate about 198 direct, onsite jobs through Loloi, with annual sales and output tabbed at around $52 million a year. Factoring in 110 indirect and 112 induced jobs connected to or benefitting from the new Loloi development, however, she anticipates the sales and output figure jumping up to about $85 million annually.
According to Loloi Inc's owner, however, those projections for his roughly $30 million development might actually be a bit too conservative.
"I think, at some point in time, it should be over 300 people [employed], easily," he said. "That's what we're expecting for the next couple of years."
That, he said, includes a mixture of both employees in white collar and blue collar positions.
Loloi Inc currently has showrooms in Atlanta, Dallas, Las Vegas, New York and High Point, North Carolina. The company, among other designers, has collaborated with ED by Ellen Degeneres, Justina Blakeney and Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines for their collections.
The company celebrates its 15th year in business in January.
"We've got close to 400 people working for us based out of Dallas, Texas and we've got about half a million square feet or more of distribution in Dallas and multiple locations," Loloi said. "We felt like this could be a great new addition for us."
As for the kinds of products shipping in and out of the center, Loloi said it will mostly be a combination of rugs, throws, pillows and "maybe some other categories of products that we're going to get into."
Dooley said he estimates construction taking about nine months.
"It will probably be 11-to-12 [months] to get everything closed out, get fully in and functional," he said. "I believe construction is complete in March, so it would be some time after that once they get all their internal racking and move into the office area."
In the interim, Lemmon said that gives Loloi ample time to scout out new personnel.
"A lot of the training and employee-related decisions will be going on simultaneously to the construction side of this," she said. "I think we're going to have a really good, long-time partnership to build in."
Loloi said his company chose Bartow as the site for their new facility for several reasons. One factor, he said, was the property being situated in the middle of north Georgia's rug industry corridor, where many of the company's competitors are located.
Simple logistics, he said, was another factor.
"We feel like there's a great importance of getting to be a part of this, because we see a huge potential for expansions," he said. "The fact that this is a corridor for a lot of the easy transportations — we're receiving part of it through the ports in Savannah — it will allow us to be able to get more products in and out, quicker and faster to all over the country, especially the east coast corridor."
Naturally, Loloi said he was counting down the days until the distribution center opens its doors.
"I know there's been a lot of work that has already been put into this and I know there was a good bit of long-term planning for us to be here," he said. "I can't wait until we see the facility up and running in the very near future ... we're looking forward to the new times and new era for our company."