The first occupant of a roughly 225,000-square-foot industrial facility in Adairsville was announced Thursday — and the tenant is no stranger to the north Bartow manufacturing market.
Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development (CBCDOED) representatives indicated that Airman USA Corp. — a Japanese-headquartered diesel generator manufacturer that has operated in Adairsville for the last five years — will be relocating to the new building along International Parkway.
Melinda Lemmon, executive director of the CBCDOED, said there was a distinct possibility that Airman USA could’ve exited Bartow County altogether had the spec building not been on the market.
“This company could’ve gone anywhere when they outgrew their space — they actually started a regional search and the State partners were involved,” she said. “We were able to introduce multiple parties involved and we got a win-win and a huge retention success story out of this for Bartow.”
The company, whose product portfolio also includes air compressors, currently employs fewer than 20 people at its facility in Adairsville.
“I don’t know that I would say there’s additional jobs here, but there’s certainly additional space for them,” Lemmon said of the company's newer digs. “And I’m hoping that the economic conditions will be such that they will be able to add jobs when they’re ready for that.”
Airman USA is a subsidiary of Niigata, Japan-based Hokuetsu Industries Co. Ltd., a company that reported roughly $370 million in revenue in 2019.
In a press release statement, Airman USA President Hiroshi Yoshida said his company aspires to increase its North American market share.
“There were challenges with the recent COVID-19 outbreak, but we’ve been facing the challenge head-on and retaining all our employees while taking preventative measures against the virus,” Yoshida is quoted. “At the beginning of the year, there were delays in construction of our new factory because of the rain, but now that we see smooth progress, we are really excited about continuing operations in this new space.”
The new facility was constructed by Panattoni Development Co., a real estate developer headquartered in Irvine, California. The same developer announced plans for a proposed 1.1-million-square-foot warehousing space off Highway 140 in Adairsville earlier this year.
Lemmon said she believes Airman USA will begin operations out of the new industrial space by September. She noted that the tenant will only occupy about 100,000 square feet of the building, leaving another 125,000 square feet available for additional occupants.
While no other tenants for the facility have been announced, Lemmon said the site is being “actively discussed" and presented to potential employers.
“I’m hopeful that by the time the building gets ready for occupancy that we might have some really excellent final candidates for Panattoni to consider leasing to,” Lemmon added.
The International Parkway corridor has long been a hotbed for manufacturing, Lemmon said, checking off investments from companies such as Daika, Godfrey Hirst, Sakai and Yanmar.
And even more large-scale developments are coming to the nexus of Highway 140 and Interstate 75.
“Ashley Capital has just completed their 769,000-square-foot building,” Lemmon noted. “There’s certainly room for more on the land that they control, so we’ll continue to see that as a nice employment center for Adairsville and for Bartow.”
As for future developments in north Bartow, Lemmon said she has her fingers crossed for more investments that “diversify” the local economy.
“Any industrial-related properties along the interstate is always going to attract the attention of logistics and supply chain,” she said. “We certainly hope that advanced manufacturing and the headquarters and the kinds of companies that have a demand for high-paying skill sets will take a look at those buildings, too.”
Lemmon said it’s no surprise why developers like Panattoni — a company that, to date, has launched no less than six projects in Bartow County — are making so many investments in the local market.
“I think there’s opportunity here, certainly,” she said. “It’s a great location, great workforce and there is demand for the types of buildings that they have planned, so they’ve been proactive in securing property [and] they’ve actually added to the product that Bartow has, so it’s been a nice symbiotic relationship.”
Such sentiments were echoed by Pat Wilson, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
“Airman’s expansion in Adairsville is not only a testament to the logistics, workforce and business environment the State of Georgia provides, but to how we work hand-in-hand with our local communities and existing industries, helping smooth the path to success,” he is quoted in a press release.