G-M Wood Products makes Toccoa expansion official

Charlie Bauder/WNEG AM-630/Special to Independent Mail
Michigan-based wood manufacturer G-M Wood Products will expand to Stephens County.

The Stephens County Development Authority has offered the company a lease agreement for the 52,500-square-foot Telford Building in the Meadowbrook Industrial Park.

Founded in 1987, G-M Wood Products makes exterior door components.

Company chief executive officer Mark Micho said the Stephens County facility will be similar to the company’s current one in Newaygo, Mich.

“We will have a priming line, and we will have and other operations,” Micho said. “We manufacture exterior door components. Those operations, along with many others that are integral for what we manufacture in Newaygo, will be in Toccoa.”

Micho said the company looked at sites throughout the region.

In the end, he said, Toccoa makes the most sense.

“What really made the most sense was the people we met when we came,” Micho said. “Our visit was very positive. Tim (Martin) did a wonderful job getting us information. It was a very relaxed atmosphere when we were there. The man overseeing the Toccoa operation and I both, after the visit, said Toccoa is where we want to be.”

The Telford Building, Micho said, is ideal for G-M Wood production process. The company is expected occupy the building Nov. 1 and start production Dec. 1. The company plans to employ 12 people initially.

Stephens County Development Authority Executive Director Tim Martin said the new agreement is more great news for the county.

“It is fitting that a company with such a proven record of success and growth in the woodworking industry would select a community with a proud history of woodworking,” Martin said. “G-M Wood Products and Toccoa-Stephens County are a perfect fit for each other.”

Stephens County Development Authority Chairman Cam Parker said the agency looks forward to helping the company enjoy success and growth in Stephens County.

Stephens County Commission Chairman Dean Scarborough said the news regarding G-M Wood is the result of the efforts of many people, just like the agreement made public last week that Crown Resources will locate in Stephens County.

“We are just so excited that G-M Wood Products has chosen Toccoa for its second location,” Scarborough said. “We know they will start off with a certain number of employees, but we look forward to them increasing as they become successful, and we are just excited about having them come to Toccoa and Stephens County.”

Toccoa Mayor Bob Troup said local officials looked at G-M Wood Products very closely as the recruitment process moved along and liked what they saw.

“They are a very stable company,” Troup said. “They are going to be great partners for Toccoa, and ultimately they will probably employ 60 to 70 people, and that is the progress that we need to make.”

State Sen. Jim Butterworth and state Rep. Michael Harden also are commending both sides for reaching an agreement. Butterworth said this is an exciting time for Toccoa and the region, while Harden said that as a company that prides itself on being the best, G-M Wood Products will be a great addition.

Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Heidi Green said the state is very pleased about this latest example of job creation in Georgia. The area work force will help G-M Wood Products thrive, she said, and play a significant part in growing the state’s economy.
Link to Article: G-M Wood Products Expansion

Advances made on economic front

There is good news – for a change – looming on the economic horizon for Toccoa-Stephens County.

The Stephens County Industrial Development Authority has been instrumental in securing commitments for two new industries to locate in our community.

The first is a Michigan-based wood components manufacturing company, as yet unidentified, that will locate in Meadowbrook Industrial Park in the Eastanollee area.

The company is expected to create 12 new jobs when it begins operations by November.

Also announced this week was the news that Crown Resources, a maker of drainage, filtration, asphalt overlay and erosion sedimentation control applications, will move its Greer, S.C., operations to the Rooker spec building in the Hayestone Brady Park.

The building is located adjacent to Highway 17 and bulldozers and other equipment could be seen working at the site the last two weeks.

Crown will bring with it 20 jobs.

That's a total of 32 new jobs for Toccoa-Stephens County, not a lot by high economic development standards – the 32 won't even replace the 100 or so jobs lost earlier this year when an industrial plant closed its Toccoa operations – but it is a start.

In these difficult economic times, when competition for new industry is beyond fierce, it should make the community feel better that some headway is being made in the creation of jobs for Toccoa-Stephens County.

To put it bluntly, 32 jobs is better than zero jobs created.

Also on a positive note on the economic development front, was the news last week that the development authority, because of less than expected contractual costs, will expand its work plan in the Hayestone-Brady industrial park.

The authority is utilizing proceeds from a special purpose local options sales tax (SPLOST) to build the park. That means infrastructure improvements such as roads, water, sewer, gas and electricity.

A recent visit to the park construction site showed considerable activity as roads are being cut and some sites leveled and prepared for potential new industrial prospects.

When completed, Hayestone-Brady will certainly be the centerpiece of Toccoa-Stephens County's industrial recruitment program.

With the completion of the park – and the much-awaited construction of a four-lane Highway 17 – Toccoa-Stephens County will take a back seat to no other community when it comes to showcasing building sites for potential industrial residents.

Our economy will not turn around from 10 percent unemployment to full employment overnight because of these two new industries and the ongoing construction of the new industrial park.

However, there is cause for optimism that with the advances of recent days we are headed to a much brighter future filled with jobs, an increased tax base and heftier payrolls supporting local consumer spending.

SCHS Graduation Rate Increase

The Stephens County School System has announced the official final graduation rate for this past school year. According to Stephens County School Superintendent Sherrie Whiten, the rate is 83%! That rate is above the 80% requirement and is also an increase from the previous year.

Stephens County Hospital makes Honor Roll

Stephens County Hospital is once again on the Georgia Hospital Association's Partnership for Health and Accountability Quality Honor Roll. The Georgia Hospital association also announced Stephens County Hospital made the Chairman's category, the highest group on the list.

Toccoa-Stephens County Welcomes Crown Resources!

Crown Resources, a geotextiles manufacturer, is relocating their operations from Greer, S.C. to Toccoa-Stephens County. Their new home will be the building formerly known as the Rooker spec building in Hayestone Brady Business park. Rooker crews are readying the building for a Nov. 1, occupancy. Production is expected to start Feb. 1, 2011. After the first of the year Crown Resources will announce its hiring needs and process. At start-up, the company will employ 20 people. Crown Resources serves mainly the construction and road building industries.

Crown Resources provides premium quality, cost-efficient woven and nonwoven geotextiles. The company offers a broad range of geotextiles to satisfy the most complex engineering demands for drainage, filtration, asphalt overlay, separation, stabilization, erosion and sedimentation control applications.

“We’re excited about our move to Toccoa, Georgia. We’ve had this beautiful area on our radar for a couple of years and have enjoyed working with local officials on this project,” said Monte Thomas, Crown Resources’ CEO.

“Toccoa is centrally located with strong transportation connections and offers a superb workforce from which we can draw our employees,” Thomas said.

“The Rooker spec building located in what will be the premier industrial park in north Georgia — Hayestone Brady Business Park, is perfectly suited to our needs. We feel very fortunate to be able to secure it for our operations,” Thomas said.

“Crown Resources has chosen Stephens County and Toccoa for their expansion and we look forward to making them feel welcome,” county commission chairman Dean Scarborough said.

“The work in infrastructure development and the commitment of the Rooker Company to place a spec building at Hayestone has helped make this possible. Diligence by our Development Authority, its volunteers, and the citizens of Stephens County have helped make this a reality,” Scarborough said.

“Good luck Crown Resources. I know the people of this community will make you proud you chose this location,” he said.

“This announcement provides an exclamation point to our efforts to develop Hayestone Brady Business Park,: said Cam Parker, SDCA chairman. “Landing this great company just as we are seeing visible progress at the Park is exciting and will propel us to even more success at recruiting jobs and investments to our community.”

“We welcome Crown Resources to the community. We have been very impressed with this company’s track record of success. We believe it complements our existing manufacturing base and brings new technology and a strong future to our area,” Development Authority director Tim Martin said.

“Manufacturing has always been one of our strong suits,” said Toccoa Mayor Bob Troup.

“Monte Thomas and his team will provide another key component to our economic viability,” Troup said.

Industrial park work expanded

By Jessica Waters
The Toccoa Record

Following the receipt of lower-than-expected bids for site work at Hayestone Brady Industrial Park, the Stephens County Development Authority (SCDA) will proceed with additional road work, grading and site preparation earlier than expected.

According to SCDA executive director Tim Martin.

Approximately $7 million in SPLOST receipts have been earmarked for industrial development, said Martin.

“We pledged to ourselves that we would spend $5 million of that on Hayestone Brady,” said Martin, adding that collections from SPLOST is now expected to be closer to $6 million, as opposed to $7 million, but that the SCDA remains committed to the Hayestone Brady project.

Bids were submitted for grading of three lots, the addition of a lift station, a force main and two gravity mains as well as roadwork.

Those bids came back at approximately one half of the expected expenditure; said Martin and SCDA chairman Cam Parker.

Taking into account the savings on the planned work, Martin said they will expand the scope of the work to include paving the entire stretch of one road, grading out additional lots, running additional water and sewer lines and getting several additional plots pad-ready.

County courting industry

By Jessica Waters
The Toccoa Record

Meadowbrook Industrial Park may soon be home to a Michigan manufacturing company, according to Stephens County Development Authority executive director Tim Martin and SCDA board chairman Cam Parker.

“It’s two deals wrapped up in one,” explained Parker, saying that the Michigan-based company has signed a letter of intent to occupy the Telford Building – a 52,500-square-foot metal building on Meadowbrook Industrial Road in Eastanollee.

Martin and Parker declined to identify the company, but explained the two-step process agreed upon during negotiations.

“The development authority will purchase the Telford Building for $700,000, and the owner will loan (the Development Authority) back $500,000 and pocket $200,000,” Parker said, adding that the $500,000 loan would be paid back at a 3 percent interest rate with a balloon payment due after three years.

“In a separate deal with the Michigan company, they will lease the building for $6,000 per month for three years, with a purchase option for $603,000 at the end of the three years.”

The plant manager of the company, which makes wooden components for doors and other products, is currently in town searching for housing, Martin said, adding that research into the company shows it to be in good financial standing.

“They have been very upfront – they are saying they will be adding 12 jobs,” Martin said, adding that the number of employees could increase over time.

Parker added that all individuals involved in the transaction are aware of all aspects of the arrangement, and that, during these economic times when other communities are providing large benefits to companies in order to compete for new businesses, some risks must be taken in order to attract new industry.

If the deal is finalized the new company could be up and running by November, Martin said.

Jennifer Blasingame Resigns

Stephens County Development Authority Treasurer and long-time board member, Jennifer Blasingame, has announced her retirement from the board according to SCDA Board Chairman, Cam Parker.

Blasingame, who is expecting the birth of a child in October, served six years on the board following her appointment by the Stephens County commissioners.
"She has had a strategic vision for where we wanted to go, and she has been an outstanding steward of those (taxpayer) dollars," said Parker. "We are where we are today in a large part because of her dedication," he added.

County commissioners will appoint a new member to the board during an upcoming commission meeting.

Combat Training Solutions receives military contract

The receipt of a government contract by Combat Training Solutions – a Colorado-based company which operates a research and development and production facility in Eastanollee – could mean additional jobs for Stephens County, said CTS president and CEO Tony Colon.

After a lengthy four-year contract competition, Combat Training Solutions, on Friday, was awarded a CARTS contract. CARTS stands for Common Army Ranges and Target Systems.

A number of companies will work to fill the $4 billion, five-year contract, with $390 million of that set aside for small businesses such as Combat Training Solutions, Colon explained.

“That is $390 million we can go after without competing against large businesses,” he said, explaining that CTS is a Hub Zone certified company.
HUB Zone certification is a Small Business Administration initiative to promote job growth, capital investment, and economic development to historically underutilized business zones by providing contracting assistance to small businesses located in these economically distressed communities.

“This (contract) will allow us to research and development and use government funds for that,” Colon said, explaining that the contract would allow for prototype building and rapid prototyping that would allow the company to hire additional machinists, welders, design engineers and support staff as well as assemblers to help produce the products once developed.

Read Full article: Toccoa Record: Top Stories

The Toccoa Record: 09-09-10

Work Ready Connect

Thursday, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue announced the launch of Work Ready Connect, the state's new online employment marketplace. The website brings together Work Ready certified people and employers to ensure the right person is placed in the right job to drive success.
Visit website: Work Ready Connect

NGTC Celebrates 5 years

The Toccoa Record
It’s hard for many to believe that only five years ago North Georgia Technical College opened the doors to a brand new, state-of-the-art branch campus in Stephens County.

Known as the Currahee Campus, the 46,000-square-foot facility is located on a 50-acre site in the Hayestone-Brady Industrial Park on Highway 17 between Toccoa and Lavonia.

With Sammy Howe as director and a skeleton crew of only 8 faculty and staff members, classes began on the new campus on July 7, 2005.

Initially, 101 students enrolled in classes at the new facility during that first summer quarter.

Now, five years later, enrollment numbers have soared to almost 500 students attending classes on the Currahee Campus.

“It is a great opportunity to bring post-secondary education and adult education to the people of Stephens and Franklin Counties,” Howe said at the opening.

“This location will provide an opportunity for people to look at new career options closer to home. Companies who are interested in moving to the area will have a place to look at for an educational facility to meet their training needs,” Howe said.

Recently the NGTC Foundation received a donation from the First Citizens Foundation to complete preliminary plans for a proposed addition to the campus. The new expansion will include a health wing which will provide even greater opportunities for the citizens of Stephens, Franklin and other surrounding counties.

In addition to educational facilities, the new Currahee facility also provided the community with access to a conference area open to the public for meetings, social gatherings and even weddings.

“We welcome you to come and visit us soon,” said campus director Greg Roach. “You can visit our library, enjoy the Thursday buffet, or schedule a wedding reception. And when you’re ready to move forward in your career by getting a better education, we’re here to help.”

For more information: NGTC
or Call: 706-779-8100.

Read the article:NGTC celebrate 5 years

Pioneer Day set at Traveler's Rest

Traveler's Rest State Historic Sit and the Friends of Traveler's Rest will host its Pioneer Days special event on Saturday, Sept. 18.
Many of the talents and skills of the early 18oo's pioneers are brought back to life. Special demonstrations will be on hand for spinning, weaving, blacksmithing, black powder shooting, hearth cooking, and doll making.
Visitors will also enjoy live peroid music and dancing. Admission is $4 for adults, $3.50 for senior citizens, $2.50 for youths, and small children are free.
Tours of the 1815 stagecoach inn and plantation home will be available as usual. Traveler's Rest is located five miles eat of Toccoa on Hwy 123.

For more information visit: GA State Parks
or Call Tugaloo State Park: 706-356-4362

TFC Receives High Ranking

Toccoa Falls College recently earned the 46th (first tier) spot among regional colleges in the 2011 edition of Best Colleges by U.S. News Media Group. This exclusive ranking came after surveying more than 1,400 schools nationwide. The college's name will be listed in the September issue of U.S. News & World Report, on newsstands as of August 31.
Over the past two decades, U.S. News college ranking, which group schools based categories created by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, has grown to be the most comprehensive research tool for students and parents considering higher education opportunities. After learning the news, Toccoa Falls College president Dr. Wayne Gardner said, "It is very exciting to have Toccoa Falls College ranked in the first tier. This ranking shows the excellent progress we have made over the past few years in our academic growth and public recognition."
Toccoa Falls College is considered one of the top Christian colleges in the nation.
For more information about Toccoa Falls College, visit www.tfc.com or call 1-888-785-5624.