Oregon-based Wellmade Performance Flooring announced its intentions to build a 328,000-square-foot development off Busch Drive in Cartersville Friday morning.
According to a press release issued by the office of Gov. Brian Kemp, the investment totals more than $35 million and is anticipated to generate 240 new jobs for the community.
“With its deep roots in the flooring industry, Georgia provides an excellent pro-business environment for Wellmade’s expansion to the east coast,” the release quotes Richard Quinlan, the company’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. “We look forward to providing a superior customer experience, while decreasing lead times and ensuring on-time delivery to our growing customer base.”
Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor told The Daily Tribune News the company had been in discussions with the local government for about six months.
“We have quick access to I-75, we’re close to Atlanta, we still have some fairly large-sized tracts of land,” he said. “We’ve got all of our infrastructure in place, so it’s a really easy choice, I think, for the company to locate in Bartow County.”
Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development Executive Director Melinda Lemmon said the advanced manufacturing market has been quite strong in northwest Georgia.
“There’s a nice convergence of resources and an environment that I think will help make the company successful,” she told The Daily Tribune News.
Both Taylor and Lemmon said the company intends on getting construction underway immediately.
“Panattoni will actually construct and lease the building,” Lemmon said. “The capital investment related to the building is not included in the numbers that are part of the press release headlines — it’s more like a $51 million capital investment if you throw that into the mix.”
As for anticipated wages, neither Lemmon or Taylor had any concrete numbers.
“Of course, it’s across the board with different kinds of occupations that will be in the facility,” Lemmon said, “but it promises to be quality jobs.”
Lemmon said the company has been offered both statutory incentives and a discretionary tax abatement by the local government.
“They’ve got what we call a ’10-5 phased-in abatement,’” Taylor said. “Ten years on real estate, five years on personal property — and as standard abatements, the first year they get a complete 10-year abatement, then as the years roll out, it would phase in until it’s completely gone in year 10.”
He noted that the abatements would not be applicable to school taxes. Taylor also said he believes that 240 job projection may be an undercount.
“The companies are normally, usually conservative in what they pledge to bring to the community,” he said. “In other words, if they say 240 employees, it’s likely to be even more.”
Lemmon said she anticipates the development to take about 12 months to be completed.
“There’s another lot next to this one that could also hold a facility for advanced manufacturing or perhaps some other industrial-related use,” Lemmon said. “There’s no specific tenant proposed for that one, but I know Panattoni would love to get another building going right next door.”
Last year The Foxfield Co. announced plans to construct an approximately 729-acre industrial park near the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Bartow.
The Foxfield Co. President Harry E. Kitchen, Jr. told The Daily Tribune News he expects the project to take about 10 years for a full build-out, with the estimated price tag of the development tabbed at $275 million.
Taylor said the County government is seeing interest within that corridor from numerous developers.
“We’ve actually got, I’ll say, several projects that’s looking at that area right now,” he said. “I have to sign non-disclosure agreements, so I can’t talk about those particular projects.”
Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson said the investment is another indication of the floor covering industry’s growth in the region.
“We are proud of our unmatched workforce training programs, unparalleled logistics network and pro-business environment, which have proven key in attracting numerous companies to every corner of the state,” Wilson is quoted in the press release.
Gov. Kemp also weighed in on the announcement.
“Georgia is home to a robust flooring industry and business market thanks to our workforce and infrastructure, and I’m confident this move will benefit Wellmade greatly,” he is quoted in the press release. “I look forward to seeing the opportunities this new facility creates for hardworking Georgians in Bartow County.”
As the community continues to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, Taylor said “an active roster of companies” continue to look at investments in Bartow.
“It is fantastic news, I’m more excited now than I would be before the COVID hit Bartow County, because it shows that we’re still growing jobs,” he said. “And with that, we can still grow our tax digest and provide a good, healthy digest for County government and the school systems.”
The announcement is especially significant, Lemmon said, considering the economic toll COVID-19 has taken on Bartow’s labor force.
“I find it very encouraging, and I hope that the community does, as well,” she said. “As we’ve been watching the unemployment numbers and think about the people that are impacted by that, it’s particularly meaningful.”