Several new companies have come to town, and some existing ones have expanded.
Brian Dill, vice president of Economic Development and Global Commerce for Carroll Tomorrow, said that Villa Rica has assets that help attract new industries and hold on to those it already has. Among those factors are its location on Interstate 20 and its proximity to the metro-Atlanta market.
“Villa Rica being on I-20, being in that corridor, provides the ease of logistics and the ability to get into Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in more than one direction,” Dill said. “All of that just lends itself to the thought process that we’re in a good place.”
Recent activity includes a food-processing company, referred to only as “Project Nathan,” that is considering moving into an existing facility in Villa Rica’s industrial park, which would mean an additional 60 jobs and a capital investment of up to $10 million. In addition to new jobs, it would go a long way to cementing the city as a corridor for food-related industries, with Villa Rica already home to Flowers Baking, Turano Baking, Sugar Foods and Printpack.
“They told us they had narrowed it down to two locations, including Villa Rica, and they’re trying to make a decision on that,” City Manager Larry Wood said.
Turano Baking recently partnered with the city on a sewer line project, which opened up development on the I-20 corridor. The project allowed the company to expand, hiring 18 more employees with plans to add more in the future.
The city recently announced the partnership of the Japanese firm IHA with existing Villa Rica business ICR to produce airplane engine parts locally. The partnership initially will result in about 15 new jobs with the potential for more in the future.
“We’re seeing a lot of international interest and a lot of that has to do with economic conditions above and beyond Carroll County, which includes shipping costs, transportation costs and currency exchange rates are in their favor to spend money in the U.S.,” Dill said. “Also, redundant facilities, as in the case of IHA’s announcement with ICR — they needed a North American facility because they were losing contracts due to shipping costs and the currency exchange rate.”
Another existing Villa Rica industry is considering a long-term lease on its existing facility and expanding its operations in a project being referred to as “Project Toast.” A decision is expected soon on that project and city officials have been working with the state to provide incentives to make the project happen.
Recycle Solutions earlier this year relocated to an industrial building on Conners Road. The company had previously been leasing a building in the city, but bought the Conners Road building for its operation of turning discarded industrial items into recycled shipping materials for industrial customers.
Haralson County Metals also recently relocated to Villa Rica in an existing building.
A potential new industry, referred to as “Project Snow,” approached the city last week about building a new facility.
According to City Manager Larry Wood, it is not unusual for companies to inquire about the Villa Rica area once a week or so in a sort of “kicking the tires” approach.
“We keep hearing that these companies are looking for a site close to the interstate and close to the Atlanta airport,” Wood said. “We fit that description pretty good. Plus we have available sewer and water capacity.”
According to Dill, in addition to the efforts to help Villa Rica attract new business by Carroll Tomorrow, the city itself is taking an aggressive approach to recruit new businesses through the Villa Rica Industrial Development Authority.
“You’ve got a real team approach that’s not unlike other areas of the community that are taking an active interest in job creation and capital investment and looking at how they do business,” Dill said. “There really hasn’t been any opportunity we’ve brought to them that they haven’t said ‘how can we make this work, does it make sense from a financial situation, will it bring jobs to the community, will it create capital investment long-term for the citizens of Villa Rica.’ They’ve been right there with us and that’s an easy sell when it comes to sitting down with a company and say we’re going to help you expand and grow here and be a partner in the process.”
There are currently 22 active projects from about 61 inquiries into Carroll County in 2012, and 12 pending decisions in the county currently with about a quarter of those in the Villa Rica market.
“We still have several pending that could mean good things for Villa Rica in 2013 as well,” Dill said. “We haven’t seen this much industrial activity across the board, at least I haven’t, since 2007.”
It is hoped that if Villa Rica continues to attract new industries, the commercial and residential sectors will follow suit in the near future.
“If you keep adding jobs with industrial projects, commercial and residential growth shouldn’t be far behind,” Wood said.