By Shannon McCaffrey, Associated Press
Northwest Georgia received an economic boost Wednesday as the Lowe's chain of home improvement stores broke ground on a $125 million distribution center which officials say will bring 600 jobs to the region within three years.
Gov. Nathan Deal was on hand at the ceremony in Rome, where the 1.4 million-square-foot facility will be located on 140 acres. The warehouse is expected to open its doors in 2013.
State and local officials lured the Mooresville, N.C.-based Lowe's to the state with $37.1 million in tax and other incentives.
The distribution center will service Lowe's stores in western Georgia, northern Florida and Alabama. It joins three other warehouse facilities in Georgia, in Valdosta, Palmetto and Savannah.
The Deal administration called the announcement "the largest job-creation project for the state" since the governor took office in January.
Georgia has been struggling with a jobless rate that has been stuck above the national average. Currently the national unemployment average is 9.1 percent. Georgia's rate is 10.1 percent.
"Not only will there be construction jobs and initial investment, there will be salaries going back into the local community and ongoing benefits for Floyd County and the state of Georgia for many years to come," Mike Mabry, Lowe's executive vice president, said.
Floyd County Commission Chairman Eddie Lumsden said the move was made possible by local residents support in 2009 for a local option sales tax, which included resources for economic development.
"We chose to invest in ourselves and that investment is paying off," Lumsden said.
The state incentives include $11.7 million in job tax credits as well as the value of Georgia Quick Start assistance, a workforce training program. Local incentives total $15 million.
Lowe's Companies Inc. had fiscal year 2010 sales of $48.8 billion and serves 15 million customers a week at more than 1,725 stores.