A victim of its own success, Jackson County is running out of building space for new industry.
“Jackson County is about out of building product,” reported Josh Fenn, the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce’s president, CEO and economic development director, told the Commerce Kiwanis Club Jan. 30.
Speaking as a guest of member Jeff Blair, Fenn briefed his audience on the chamber’s plans for 2014. As always, economic development is a major emphasis.
With Ollie’s Bargain Outlet leasing the 962,600-square-foot Rooker building in Commerce, Fenn said the county has an industrial inventory of just 800,000 square feet.
Just last summer, the county had 2.9 million square feet available.
Still available are the 500,000-square foot First Industrial building at Valentine Industrial Park and 135,000 square feet in a spec building in McClure Industrial Park.
Responding to questions after the Kiwanis meeting, Fenn said that the “very strong absorption rate” of industrial property in the entire metropolitan Atlanta area (of which Jackson County is considered a part), “is something developers are noticing,” which could spur interest in new spec buildings in Jackson County.
“If not, at least there will be a lot of due diligence to put a spec building here,” Fenn said.
Building size could range from 40,000-80,000 square feet for smaller manufacturing operations to 1 million square feet for larger manufacturers.
“Spec buildings, we feel, will come back in Metro Atlanta, and we feel Jackson County will be one of the first areas,” Fenn commented.
As for Ollie’s, which is expected to begin its Commerce operation in the second quarter, Fenn said, “I think you’re going to find them a good neighbor in Commerce.” He said management is already inquiring about chamber members and the chamber’s Partners In Education program.
The Commerce site is designed to serve 47 stores to be located in Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee and Alabama. Fenn said the company has already signed leases for three of those. He also expressed hope that Jackson County will get one of those retail stores.