Friday, March 7, 2008

Governor Perdue Announces $14.5 million in OneGeorgia Awards

At the OneGeorgia Authority board meeting today at the historic Hawkinsville Opera House, Governor Sonny Perdue announced over $14.5 million in grant awards administered or financially supported by the OneGeorgia Authority aimed at spurring economic development in rural Georgia.

“The OneGeorgia Authority is a key asset for rural Georgia,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “The investments we are making today will help retain and create jobs, stimulate private investment and enhance regional competitiveness.”

Governor Perdue and members of the OneGeorgia Authority Board approved grants from the OneGeorgia Authority’s portfolio of financing programs including EDGE, Equity, BRIDGE and ESB as well as Centers of Innovation Research Grants, Entrepreneur Friendly Implementation Grants and “Entrepreneurial Friendly” community recognition. These awards will assist with a variety of economic development projects in rural Georgia aimed at creating jobs, stimulating new private investment, supporting the retention of existing jobs and enhancing regional competitiveness. These projects, along with their respective local leadership and company representatives, were recognized at the OneGeorgia board meeting.

The EDGE (Economic Development, Growth & Enterprise) Fund is designed to provide financial assistance to eligible applicants that are being considered as a relocation or expansion site and are competing with another state or country for the location of the project. The four EDGE awards, totaling $3,419,000, are leveraged against more than $74.5 million in total project costs and are projected to create just under 1100 jobs within the next two years.

Dodge County/Eastman Development Authority / Standard Candy Company, Inc.

EDGE grant and loan funds totaling $1,005,000 ($385,000 grant and $620,000 Loan) will be used to assist with the purchase of machinery and equipment to support the expansion of Standard Candy Company located in Eastman. Standard Candy Company is a privately held manufacturer of confectionery items based in Nashville, Tennessee. Founded in 1901, the Company’s most well known product is the “Goo Goo”, a round mound of caramel, marshmallows, roasted nuts and pure chocolate. A major cereal company recently awarded Standard Candy a contract for producing a granola bar product that currently is being produced in California. The Company will accommodate production of the new product by retooling one of its existing production lines. The Company employs 232 people at its Eastman plant and expects to create 77 new jobs in two years.

Development Authority of Richmond County / T-Mobile USA, Inc.

EDGE grant funds of $1,500,000 will be used to purchase equipment in support of the location of a 78,000 SF customer-care facility for T-Mobile USA, Inc. in Augusta, Georgia. This will be the first customer care facility in Georgia and there are currently 22 centers in the United States. T-Mobile is one of the top four carriers in the U.S. followed by AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel. The Company’s U.S. operation, T-Mobile USA, Inc., serves over 27 million mobile customers, employs over 29,000 and is capable of serving all Americans through its established network. Deutsche Telekom Group AG, the parent company, is ranked #56 on the Forbes Global 2000 listing of the world’s largest public companies. The U.S. subsidiary is based in Bellevue, Washington. The Company has created 240 new jobs to date at the Augusta facility. The company has created 280 jobs to date and expects to create a total of 700 new jobs within two years. Total project cost: $25.5 million.

Development Authority of Harris County / Xpress Materials, LLC

EDGE grant funds of $150,000 will be used to assist with road improvements in support of the location of Xpress Materials, LLC, a concrete manufacturer to West Point. The Company has chosen a 47.76-acre site in the new Northwest Harris County Business Park due to its close proximity to the new KIA plant which it intends to serve. Xpress Materials, a subsidiary of the Graham Family of Companies (GFC), is a privately-held company engaged in cement and concrete manufacturing. The company expects to create 72 new jobs within two years. Total project cost: $13. 7 million.

Barnesville-Lamar County Industrial Development Authority / General Protecht US, Inc.

EDGE grant funds of $764,000 will be used to assist with land acquisition, site, water and road improvements to support the location of General Protecht US, Inc., a Chinese manufacturer of ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), to a 211-acre site in Barnesville. GFCI is an electrical outlet device that prevents severe or fatal electric shocks that occur around water and are often used in bathrooms and kitchens. Presently, there are only four GFCI manufacturers in the world, representing a $2 billion industry. The company expects to create 240 jobs within two years. Total project cost: $34 million.

The Equity Fund is designed to assist communities and regions in building the necessary infrastructure to support economic development. The program’s flexibility also provides financial assistance to enhance publicly-owned tourism initiatives, workforce development opportunities and downtown revitalization projects. In addition, loan funds are available through the Equity Revolving Loan Fund to assist small business owners with business growth and expansion opportunities.

Seven Equity awards totaling over $4.5 million were made today. These awards include:

Valley Partnership Joint Development Authority

Equity grant funds of $1 million will be used to assist with the construction of public water and sewer improvements to the 376-acre Northwest Harris Business Park, located at the intersection of Davidson Road and GA Highway 103 in the northwest corner of Harris County. With the KIA auto assembly plant being constructed less than three miles north in West Point, other manufacturers and suppliers are interested in locating to the park. The park will significantly increase economic opportunity in Harris County and the Valley Partnership Region which consists of Harris, Muscogee, Chattahoochee, Talbot, Marion and Taylor Counties. The park is expected to provide strong regional impact. Total project cost: $6.3 million.

City of West Point

Equity grant funds of $500,000 will be used to assist with the construction of a one million gallon water storage tank to serve Hyundai-owned Mobis Georgia, LLC and Glovis Georgia, LLC. Both companies will serve as suppliers for Kia Motors America. The two facilities will be constructed adjacent to the new Kia plant on the 2,200-acre Webb Road mega-site on the west side of I-85. Mobis will construct a 310,000 square-foot facility that will fabricate chassis, front-ends, bumpers and cockpit modules for Kia. Glovis will construct and operate a consolidation and vehicle processing center where they will be responsible for pre-delivery inspection, cleaning, undercoating, wheel installation and shipping Kia vehicles. By the end of 2010, both expect to create 1,300 well-paying jobs that will positively impact a multi-county area and bring new residents to the region. Total project cost: $123 million.

Joint Development Authority of Jasper County, Morgan County, Newton County, and Walton County

Equity grant funds of $1,000,000 will be used to support publicly-owned road improvements to serve Stanton Springs, a 1,500-acre technology park located at the junction of Morgan, Newton and Walton Counties on I-20 and Highway 278. Stanton Springs is a great example of public-private partnership involving four counties with a private partner, Technology Park/Atlanta, Inc. (TPA). Morgan, Newton, and Walton Counties have land within the development area. Jasper County will contribute 10% of costs toward development even though the county will not own land within the development. All four counties will share costs/revenues according to an intergovernmental agreement. TPA is a private developer experienced in the planning and development of similar projects including Johns Creek Mixed Use Park. At full build-out, the project will be able to support 20,000 workers. Total project cost: $19 million.

City of Andersonville

Equity loan funds of $500,000 will be used to assist with the replacement of the 30 year old wastewater treatment system. This replacement will help the City of Andersonville retain a major employer and support its thriving tourism industry. The failing wastewater treatment plant threatens to shutdown the City’s sewage and water systems which would result in a loss of both Plant One, which produces aluminum silicates, and the associated administrative buildings of Mullite Company of America (Mulcoa). Mulcoa mines and processes over one million tons of kaolin and bauxite ores annually. In addition, without water, the Andersonville National Historic Site and the National Prisoner of War Museum would be required to shut down.

Cartersville-Bartow County Airport Authority

Equity loan funds of $500,000 will be used to assist with the construction of 30 T-hangars at the Level III Cartersville-Bartow Regional Airport. Currently the airport houses 120 private aircraft permanently based at the airport, spread among 60 T-hangars, 50 tie-downs and corporate hangars. There are currently no vacancies for T-hangar space and a waiting list of 100. The new hangars will add economic development capacity, meet an airport need, generate new taxes and encourage tourism. The airport is ranked by the DOT as number one in the nine airports within Region One and 7th highest in economic activity compared with all 94 general aviation airports in Georgia. Phoenix Air Group, a worldwide airline services company and fixed based operator at the Airport, will handle the rental of the hangars. The Company provides many services including electronic warfare training to militaries, air charter, fuel, and advanced flight school services. Total project cost: $1.5 million.

Thomasville Payroll Development Authority

Equity loan funds of $500,000 will be used to assist in the construction of two 100-foot by 100-foot box hangers at the Thomasville Regional Level III Airport. New hangers will replace existing 40-foot by 46-foot wooden hangers which are over sixty years old. The current hangars are too small to house corporate aircraft and in need of replacement. Four corporate jet aircraft can be housed in the new hangars. The airport houses 62 aircraft with 24,150 square-feet of corporate hanger space with no vacancies and a waiting list of nine. The runway and terminal building make the airport an excellent economic development resource for Thomasville and the region. Total project cost: $1.7 million

Development Authority of the City of Manchester

Equity loan funds of $500,000 will be used to acquire 22 acres and a 350,000 square-foot building located on the 37-acre former Goody’s plant location at 1000 West Main Street. The building was originally built in 1969 and expanded in 1979. The Development Authority of the City of Manchester (DA) already owns 15 acres of the site and seeks to own and control the entire plant site. The DA has a prospect that is currently considering the site. If the company locates to Manchester, then it would mean 140 new jobs immediately and 300-400 after five years. Total project cost: $1.7 million.

Governor Perdue and the board recognized the most recent recipients of technology grants from the BRIDGE (Broadband Rural Initiative to Develop Georgia’s Economy) Fund.

Southwest Georgia Technology Authority

BRIDGE grant funds of $38,700 will be used to assist with the cost of a feasibility study needed to determine the economic benefits and costs of providing wireless Broadband assistance to underserved parts of a four-county area that consists of Clay, Quitman, Randolph and Stewart Counties. The study will consist of a business and marketing plan and the development of a request for proposal (RFP) that will implement a Carrier Class High Speed Back Haul Network. The region seeks to incorporate technology applications in education, healthcare, public safety as well as tourism.

The board also reviewed the latest ESB Loan Guarantees made since the last board meeting. The Entrepreneur-Small Business Loan Guarantee Program was created over two years ago to support the growth of entrepreneurs and small businesses in less developed areas. The ESB Loan Guarantee Program is the Authority’s first public-private partnership, providing a shared risk with Georgia lending institutions for loans ranging from $35,000 to $250,000.

Six ESB Loan Guarantees in the amount of $437,857 were approved by the board today:

KAB Furniture, Inc. dba Badcock Furniture /United National Bank (Cairo)

KAB Furniture, Inc plans to re-open a Badcock Furniture store in Quitman. The business currently employs 2 and expects to create four (4) additional jobs. ESB Loan guarantee: $112,500.

Pulaski Paint and Decorating, Inc. /Planters First Bank (Cordele)

The business sells paint, floor covering, wallpaper and window treatments. The loan proceeds were used to purchase the land, building, inventory and furniture, fixtures and equipment. The business currently employs 3 and expects to create one additional job. ESB Loan guarantee: $75,000

Allen’s BBQ/Pinnacle Bank (Elberton)

Allen’s Famous BBQ is located in Elberton. The recipe used is a closely held old family recipe and has been handed down through the generations. Loan proceeds were used to purchase real estate on which to place the BBQ building. The restaurant will employ 2 at start-up and expects to create three (3) additional jobs. ESB Loan Guarantee: $25,000

Hydraulic.Net LLC/FNB South (Alma)

Hydraulic.Net LLC is a manufacturing company started in 1997 in Culpepper, Virginia. The company recently relocated to Folkston. The company currently employs 12 and expects to create eighteen (18) additional jobs. ESB Loan Guarantee: $112,500

Big Slough Farms, Inc. /Planters & Citizens Bank (Camilla)

Big Slough Farms, Inc. is a family owned and operated sod business located in Camilla, specializing in residential and commercial sod and turf installations. The major top-quality brands available include Tif Blair Centipede Grass, Emerald Zoysia, and Meyer Zoysia and many more. The loan proceeds were used to purchase an Auto-Slab II, a sod cutting machine to assist in the company’s expansion. The company currently employs 6 and expects to create one (1) additional job. ESB Loan guarantee: $100,000.

Kip Cravey dba KC Enterprises /Colony Bank of Dodge County (Eastman)

KC Enterprises is a tree surgery company started in August 2007. A tree surgeon (arborist) works in the management and maintenance of trees by taking down trees when necessary or removing them when damaged during storms. Loan proceeds will be used to purchase additional equipment – a Bobcat Loader and Diesel truck. The company currently employs 2 and expects to create one (1) additional job. ESB Loan Guarantee: $12,848.

The OneGeorgia Authority announced research grants today supporting the Centers of Innovation program totaling $394,862. The Georgia Centers of Innovation program, launched by Governor Perdue in 2003, builds on the state’s world-class assets and home-grown industries to provide support for researchers and entrepreneurs in the areas of aerospace, agriculture, biotech, information technology and maritime logistics.

“The centers work together in a seamless network connecting state leaders, academic research, business experts and entrepreneurs to nurture innovative ideas and forge new relationships,” said Governor Perdue. “The objective is to grow long-term economic opportunities, create jobs and attract new companies all across rural Georgia.”

The eight recipients of the Centers of Innovation Research Grant program were recognized at today’s board meeting. These awards will provide matching research funds to support the following entrepreneurial research projects:

SoftWear Automation: An Innovative Concept in Apparel Manufacturing

Phase I of this project will be proving the concept of micro-manipulation for commercial sewing based on advances in robotics and very advanced sensors, machine vision and computation. The objective of the proof of concept phase is to carry out initial survey of the state-of-the art in garment sewing and a demonstration analysis of technical solutions involving motion measurement in the thread count sense and micro-manipulation of fabric. Additionally, this project will provide for the further refinement of methods for motion planning relative to the global motion of fabric around the heads. It is anticipated that the achievements in Phase I will lay the foundation for the development of the prototype.

Research Grant $100,000; University Partner: Georgia Tech; Industry Partner: Softwear Automation, Inc.

Law Enforcement Vehicle Ergonomics

The overall goal of this research is to design the driver and passenger compartments for a law enforcement vehicle, optimized for human factors and ergonomics considerations. Research Grant $100,000; University Partner: GA Tech; Industry Partner: Carbon Motors, Inc.

Production of Ethanol from Sweet Sorghum

The goal of this project is to provide AgStrong, Inc. with data to assess the feasibility of a commercial operation to produce ethanol from sweet sorghum. AgStrong and its partners have selected three varieties of sweet sorghum based on their own studies. Research Grant $5,000; University Partner: University of GA; Industry Partner: AgStrong, Inc.

Alternative Crop/Camelina Study

The objectives of this project include studying potential uses of camelina as a bioenergy feedstock when grown in Georgia environments. Research Grant: $7,680; University Partner: University of GA; Partner: Alterra Bioenergy

Fermentation Strategy for Removing Key Inhibitor to the use of Lignocellulosic Biomass

The project seeks to overcome significant hurdles affecting commercial realization of lignocellulosic biomass such as trees and grass. Trees and grass yield a complex mixture of sugars as opposed to a starch based crop like corn that yields a single sugar. Research Grant $58,000; University Partner: University of Georgia; Industry Partner: Synergy Parametrics, LLC.

Optimal Production of Ethanol from Unique Sugar Sources

The purpose of this project is to develop and optimize the fermentation process that U.S. Ethanol will use in their plant currently under construction in Cordele U.S. Ethanol seeks to commercially produce ethanol from unique sugar sources such as expired beverages like Coke and Pepsi and waste sugars like molasses and corn syrup. This project will vet the technology of using a fed-batch fermentation process. Award Amount $23,978; University Partner: University of Georgia; Industry Partner: U. S. Ethanol.

Heating Poultry Houses with Wood Pellets

The purpose of this project is to study the cost effectiveness of a wood pellet heating system for poultry houses. The COI project will support additional research related to the use of a wood heating system to provide supplemental heat to broiler houses. COI funding allows for study expansion of the research conducted under Phase 1, USDA project. Research Grant: $66,500; University Partner: University of Georgia; Industry Partner: FRAM Renewable Fuels, LLC.

Imaging Based Inspection & Control of Baked Goods

The purpose of this project is to aid Bake Tech in the commercialization of an imaging based inspection and control system for high-volume baking operations. This system will improve the yield and quality of the product by automatically controlling the oven based on color. This project will allow for field testing and deployment of the system in a plant for an extended period of time. Research Grant: $33,704; University Partner: Georgia Tech: Industry Partner: Baking Technology Systems, Inc.

The board also received an update on the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s community-based Entrepreneur Friendly program. Warren, Jones, Madison, Candler, Coweta, Harris, Lincoln, Polk, Gordon, White, Stephens, Franklin, Irwin, Liberty, Evans, Effingham, Screven, Lumpkin, and Morgan Counties were recognized as the most recent communities to earn the Entrepreneurial Friendly designation. To date, 82 communities have earned this designation, and more are working toward this important certification.

Once a community has earned the Entrepreneur Friendly designation, they have the opportunity to apply for entrepreneur and small business implementation grants of up to $25,000. At today’s meeting, grants from the Entrepreneur Friendly Implementation Fund (EFIF) were awarded to: Sumter County (benefiting Sumter and Schley) $15,000; Tri-CREST (benefiting Toombs, Montgomery and Tattnall) $25,000; Spalding County (regional resource expo benefiting Spalding, Butts and Lamar) $13,940; and Habersham County $25,000. The grant program is funded by the OneGeorgia Authority and is only available to communities who have successfully earned the designation “Entrepreneur Friendly.”

The OneGeorgia Authority was created utilizing one-third of the state’s tobacco settlement to assist the state’s most economically challenged areas. The OneGeorgia Authority is expected to receive about $1.6 billion over the 25-year term of the settlement.
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