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 FRONT PAGE - JULY 21, 1999 - COMMERCE, GA


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GROWTH

7 Foreign Firms Eying Jackson County
Seven foreign firms from four different countries are among the industrial prospects considering manufacturing plants in Jackson County, according to the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber is fielding inquiries, hosting delegations or providing other information for 22 potential industries seeking to invest more than a half billion dollars and to employ almost 2,500 people, reported President Pepe Cummings to the chamber's board of directors at its July meeting last Friday at Jackson EMC.
The numbers came from a page listing the "building projects" in which the chamber has had some inquiries. Of the 22 projects, Cummings said one (Quik Trip) has already located and seven others, including Japanese and French firms, are "hot" prospects.
Cummings broke the list down into projects that were ongoing before he took the job as chamber president, new businesses looking at specific buildings or sites and projects looking for acreage.
"They are running me to death," Cummings laughed after the meeting.
Among the "hot" prospects:
·the ConAgra chicken hatchery, an $8-9 million project expected to build in the East Jackson Industrial Park. It would employ 60 people.
·a French auto parts manufacturer whose customers would likely include BMW and General Motors. It would invest $8-$10 million and employ 35.
·a Japanese chemical company that would invest $25 million and employ 15.
·an Italian company prepared to invest $50 million for a plant to employ 100 in the manufacturing of foam products.
·a Swedish company, investment amount unknown, looking for a plant to employ 15-25 people in metal fabrication, possibly for auto parts.
·a Florida firm interested in a $3 million project that would employ 100 in the manufacturing of mats used to absorb oil, whose customers would include NASCAR drivers and industries.
·a Rhode Island company that would invest $10 million in a plant to make foam products and would employ from 25 to 75 people. Among its customers would be the Honda plant in Alabama.
Three Japanese auto parts manufacturers, all interested in serving the BMW plant in South Carolina and the GM plant in Doraville, are considered "medium" prospects, said Cummings, as are a company that would build acrylic sinks for Home Depot and Lowe's, and an optics manufacturer hoping to start a new company with a $60 million investment.
The latter company, said Cummings, is trying to line up some $100 million in finances.
"They think they've got their first round of financing," he reported. "All indications are that they will come to Jackson County if that happens."
Cummings said the growing amount of interest being shown in Jackson County "bodes well and is a clear signal that maybe we don't have to give away the farm to get the fruit, so to speak."
Chairman Richard Cathey said that the chamber's "developers' days" had helped. One of the representatives of the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade & Tourism who came on one Developers' Days tour serves as the translator for Japanese businesses seeking to locate companies in Georgia.
"A significant number of these meetings and visits are a direct result of Developers' Days," Cathey said.
OTHER BUSINESS
Much of the meeting was spent rehashing activities of the various chamber committees during the first six months of the year and projecting what they would do for the rest.
Among the most important ongoing projects is the industry-based child care center that remains in the planning stage.
"This, if not the most significant, is one of the most significant activities," Cummings told the board, noting that it is a "working collaborative to address one of the major needs" of the county. "If it is successful, it could open up a whole new sector of employees," he concluded.
The project, headed by Jeff Geisler of Southeastern Toyota, would provide 24 hour per day, seven day a week child care for children of workers. Cummings said the group is ready to send requests for proposals to people interested in building or operating the center.




Bible Time At Grove Level Baptist
Clay Hardy and fellow first-grade boys rally around their placard Wednesday night at the Grove Level Baptist Church "Bible Time" vacation Bible school. Wednesday was the "Night of the Water," and the kids enjoyed games and contests featuring fire hoses, water guns and other ways of getting wet. Some 1,600 children participated in the Bible school Sunday through Friday.


ZONING

Mt. Olive Road PUD Back On Planning Commission Agenda
The developer of a proposed planned unit development (PUD) on the Mount Olive Road is expected to try once again Monday night to get land rezoned for a major subdivision.
City officials expect Broughton Cochran of Gainesville to resubmit a site plan and zoning request when the Commerce Planning Commission meets at 7:00 in the Commerce Civic Center. Cochran had the planning commission's recommendation for PUD zoning, only to have the Commerce City Council send the matter back to the planning commission after discovering that what the planning panel recommended was not permitted under the city zoning ordinance.
Cochran had proposed that "Kensington Park" contain about 150 houses, 46 townhouses and a six-acre commercial area on an 83-acre tract at the intersection of Ridgeway Road. Neighbors opposed the density of the development, the commercial area and raised traffic concerns. In making a "do approve" recommendation to the city council, the planning commission was passing only on the PUD concept, however, not the site plan.
But under the city's zoning ordinance, the PUD overlays the zoning on property, and can contain only one zoning classification. That, in effect, prohibits having commercial, multi-family and single-family zoning in one development.
As of Monday, officials were awaiting word from Cochran on his plans for the property.
Two other items are on the agenda for the planning commission.
Jackie and Keith Whitfield seek a rezoning of two-plus acres on the Mount Olive Church Road from B-1 to M-1. The site is across the street from Baker & Taylor Books, just north of Mount Olive Baptist Church.
Dr. Jon Milford seeks rezoning for annexation of a lot on Waterworks Road. Currently zoned A-1, the property will likely be zoned R-1. It contains a workshop.

NEWS SHORTS

Champions
The 11-12-year old girls' softball team from the Commerce Recreation Department captured the district GRPA championship Saturday in Dawsonville.

Another Delay
The Georgia Department of Transportation has postponed the widening of U.S. 441 fory a year.

Helping Others
Sixteen youths from the First United Methodist Church of Commerce took a "mission trip" to Oconee County, where they spent several days scraping and painting houses.

Rush Hour
The birth of four babies in a single night may not be a big deal at larger hospitals, but it's a record of sorts at BJC Medical Center.
More on these stories can be found in this week's printed edition of The Commerce News

GROWTH

County Ready To Begin Work On I-85 Access Road
Having acquired all of the rights-of-way on the first section of an access road along Interstate 85, the Jackson County Road Department expects to begin clearing land for the 1.4-mile project during August.
Eventually, the road will lead from U.S. 441 south to Georgia 98. The first phase takes the road from U.S. 441 to Ridgeway Road, according to Sam McClure, Jackson County road superintendent.
"The status is, we have acquired the rights-of-way from 441 to Ridgeway Church," McClure said. "We have part of the other section and are working on the rest. We are in the process of doing the engineering on phase one."
In fact, the center line for the 24-foot-wide road has been staked. The topographical work has been done, and McClure's office is in the process of establishing the grades and locating catch basins on plans for the road.
"The engineering is under way. We're working hard on it," he stated.
Opening the road is seen as a key to expanding the growth around Banks Crossing further south in Jackson County. Opening the road is a joint goal of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners and the Commerce City Council.
Commerce will be responsible for providing natural gas, water and sewerage services for the area served by the road, and the Georgia Department of Transportation has committed to providing "help" with paving the road once Jackson County provides grading and drainage.
"I anticipate starting clearing within two to three weeks," said McClure. "The county will do the grading and drainage. Once we get that done, Commissioner (Wayne) Shackleford has said he will help us with the grading and paving. We're not sure exactly what type of assistance we're going to get until we see it in the contract. I anticipate he'll be generous."
McClure was reluctant to provide a timetable for construction.
"I hope that this time next year we'll have all of our grading done, but I can't go so far as to say we'll have base and paving done," he said.
The road will begin at Beck Road on the south side of I-85 and will run roughly parallel to the interstate, but far enough back to allow development on both sides of what some are dubbing "Progress Road."
"We wanted it to be in Jackson County and we wanted it to have plenty of room on either side for development," McClure explained.
All of the road will be in the "shared tax district" in which school property tax revenue is split between the Jackson County Board of Education and the Commerce Board of Education, regardless of whether development is annexed into Commerce or remains unincorporated.
Meanwhile, officials continue to work on acquiring the rights-of-way for the second phase. A source said owners of most of the major tracts between Ridgeway Road and Georgia 98 had signed off, but five rights-of-way on smaller tracts have yet to be procured.

CRIME


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