Economic growth theme of top business stories
by Jason Lowrey
Dec 27, 2013 | 3141 views | 0 0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Top Business Stories
Fred Skellham demonstrates his wakeboarding skills at Terminus Wake Park in Emerson at the LakePoint Sporting Community. Terminus, which opened Sept. 27, was the first LakePoint occupant to welcome visitors. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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The year 2013 saw business in Bartow County bounce back, as construction projects, expansions and new openings dominated headlines. Ranked by the newsroom of The Daily Tribune News, the following stories are listed below, in no particular order, as the top business stories in 2013.

LakePoint construction

gets underway

Earlier this year construction began on LakePoint Sporting Community’s south campus, where graders, dump trucks and backhoes have shifted approximately 11 million cubic yards of dirt and 5 million cubic yards of rock.

“The topography of that area ... is challenging. It’s a challenging site, so we are in the process of grading and dirt removal,” Natalie Springfield, a LakePoint press representative with Smartegies, said in October. “We’re moving more — we’ve been told by our site contractor that we’re moving more dirt than any other project in Georgia.”

While the construction was the most visible sign of LakePoint’s progress, other announcements indicated the project was gathering steam. A partnership with Greg Norman Golf Course Design was made in October, with a nine-hole, par 3 course planned in addition to a practice facility. Other announced attractions included an Atlanta Braves Clubhouse store and the Polercoaster — a small-footprint, full-sized roller coaster with retail areas.

In addition to construction and partnerships, LakePoint saw its first business, Terminus Wake Park, open Sept. 27. A cable-pulled wakeboarding park, Terminus acquired temporary operating permits that allowed it to open even while construction continued on LakePoint’s fields.

“It’s incredible ... It’s probably a year and a half in the making. We’ve had some [help], between our construction teams, the effort that our team on the ground has put forward here, Sesitec — which is the cable and wakepark system operator — they’ve just been phenomenal to help us get to this point and we’re excited as we can ever be,” Terminus co-owner Scott Beville said when the wakepark opened.

On June 24, the Emerson City Council approved an agreement with the Red Top Community Improvement District, which will oversee some aspects of the LakePoint area.

“The community improvement district is kind of like a homeowner’s association for an area, but it’s only for businesses,” said Assistant City Manager Todd Heath at the time. “What they will do is, they will impose a tax but the tax is only on the businesses within the district, which is LakePoint, and then, with that tax money, they can use it to do improvements, such as sidewalks, street signs, street lighting, water, sewer, basically all the things that a regular government would do.”

By the end of 2013, LakePoint began to look toward its next phase and north campus construction, which is planned to begin once the south campus is complete. On Nov. 22, during a called meeting, the Development Authority of Bartow County approved LakePoint’s request to free up $500 million in bonds. Authority attorney Boyd Pettit said the company could pull from the total amount of the bonds rather than one section of the funds at a time.

Events are already scheduled for 2014, with LakePoint planning to host the Extreme Volleyball Professionals Tour June 27 and 28.

Shaw announces Adairsville plant

Adairsville received an economic boost Aug. 29 when Shaw Industries announced it would place a new carpet tile plant on Ga. Highway 140 near Hall Station Road. The plant is expected to create 500 jobs over a period of five years, while totalling approximately 600,000 to 700,000 square feet in its first phase.

Construction is planned to begin sometime in 2014.

When they made the announcement, Shaw executives described the site selection process as “very competitive,” as it spanned multiple states, counties and communities. Adairsville was ultimately chosen as the site, thanks to the efforts of the Georgia Department of Economic Development and Cartersville-Bartow County Economic Development.

Shaw Director of Corporate Assets Chuck Dobbins said Plant 15, on U.S. Highway 411, is maxed out in terms of production, which led to the need for a new facility.

“We’re talking about something new. We’ve had too many times in the past several years where our industry has been dinged so hard by the housing downturn that this is so nice — John Wilkinson, my associate, and I have spent too much of our time talking about where capacity needed to be taken out because there wasn’t sufficient demand for the amount of capacity we had. So this is exciting for our company,” he said during the announcement ceremony.

Mayor Evan King noted the plant’s importance not just for Adairsville, but the larger community.

“I’m really ... Most of you don’t know me, I don’t really get excited. I’m pretty even keel. Some of you [have] known me longer than others, but I’m excited today. I might not show it, but I’m excited for what this means for our community, and all I can really say is thank you,” he said.

Toyo Tire breaks ground on fourth expansion

Approximately 650 jobs could be created in Bartow county over a period of four years, with Toyo Tire breaking ground on its fourth expansion Dec. 6.

In addition to jobs, the expansion is planned to add another 700,000 square feet to the plant and 323,000 square feet to the warehouse, with the investment expected to total approximately $371 million, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

Gov. Nathan Deal was among those on hand for the groundbreaking ceremony, and he thanked Toyo employees for their hard work.

“I see we have many of the workers who are here. I want to thank you because you are what really makes a company work. You are what makes it efficient, and your work is what makes economic development. I can assure you that without your dedicated hard work we would not be hearing the announcement we’re hearing today,” he said.

Less than two weeks later, Rubber & Plastics News, an industry publication, recognized Toyo’s growth since 2004 by naming Chairman and Senior Corporate Officer James Hawk Rubber Industry Executive of the Year for 2013.

Unit 2 explodes at Plant Bowen

Not complying with procedures and improper communication led to an explosion at Georgia Power’s Plant Bowen that ripped metal panels from the powerhouse walls and shook windows in the surrounding area.

The April 4 blast caused four minor injuries, with three being treated on scene and one transported to the hospital before being released.

“Unit 2 was already off-line and was being prepared for maintenance,” said spokesman John Kraft in May. “A multi-step procedure to purge hydrogen from the generator was underway, but the process used didn’t comply with procedures and there was a communications breakdown.”

The mix of hydrogen and air combusted, shutting down Units 1 and 2. Unit 1 was brought back online in August.

In September, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration cited Plant Bowen for 17 serious safety violations. According to a press release, the proposed penalties amounted to $119,000.

As reported in May, no disciplinary actions were taken against employees.

ATR shuts down, lays off 91 employees

Applied Thermoplastic Resources closed for business May 31, resulting in the layoff of its 91 employees. The closing came a year after ATR was named Georgia Small Manufacturer of the year.

According to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act letter sent to the Georgia Department of Labor May 7, a decline in demand led ATR to close its Cartersville facility.

“... Unfortunately, in the recent past, the demand for ATR product has decreased and sales have declined. For these and other reasons, ATR has decided to permanently close the Plants, in their entirety, effective May 31, 2013. All employees in all positions will be terminated, on a permanent basis, effective May 31, 2013,” the letter read, as written by Deputy Restructuring Officer Jason Shulick.

ATR operated an 800,000-square-foot facility on South Erwin Street producing environmentally friendly resins, products and services.

A press release from Chattahoochee Technical College nominating ATR for manufacturer of the year, stated the company had tripled its workforce and revenue, and expectations were for an increase of 30 to 50 percent in the workforce and doubling revenue in 2013.

Shulick, in the WARN letter, said the company was looking to sell its property to other organizations not affiliated with ATR.

“... ATR is actively negotiating both sale transactions and believes they will occur, however there always remains a possibility that one slae or both will fall through,” the letter read. “If the sales occur in the manner currently anticipated, the Plant operations are expected to be continued, by the buyers. The buyers have each expressed to ATR that they intend to hire most ATR employees. ...”

— DTN reporters Jessica Loeding, Neil McGahee and Matt Shinall contributed to this article.