Manufacturers continue expansions and hiring in county

Manufacturers continue expansions and hiring in county

September 20th, 2012 by Mike O'Neal in Local Regional News

Businesses continue to expand their Walker County facilities.

"In my four years on the job, 2012 has been the busiest for new businesses," said Larry Brooks, executive director for the Walker County Development Authority.

Local officials and company personnel announce Phillips Machine Company's $3 million purchase of the former Blue Bird Plant in LaFayette in July, adding 40 to 50 jobs.

Photo by File Photo

Most recently, United Synthetics Inc., a leader in the manufacture of polyester fiberfill and non-woven fibers in North America, announced that it will remain - and expand - its plant on State Highway 193. The company, headquartered in Albany, N.Y., plans on spending about $3 million to install new operating equipment on two of its three production lines. The company will also construct 30,000 square feet of new warehouse space at its 16-acre site.

"Because the county was willing to work with us, this new investment will keep us operating here," Mike Lee, chief operating officer for the local plant, said when the expansion was announced Sept. 7.

United Synthetic began operations in what was once a Buster Brown Apparel mill just to the west of LaFayette in 1999 and in 2008 opened a second manufacturing plant in Spartanburg, S.C.

The company had considered shifting all operations to that South Carolina facility, but instead will expand its physical presence and hire more workers in Northwest Georgia.

No taxpayer funding is involved and no tax incentives are being offered to the company that produces polyester fill used in insulation and cushioning in the medical device, furniture, clothing, bed linens and automotive industries.

"These plans will allow the LaFayette operation to remain competitive with the other operations the company has in different locations outside Georgia," Walker County Commissioner Bebe Heiskell said when United Synthetic made its plans public.

Company officials said the equipment is already in place, site preparation for the warehouse is under way and construction of a new building could begin in October.

Though the most recent, United Synthetic's is not the only sign of business and job growth in the county, according to Brooks.

In addition to the major expansions of facilities, Brooks said several local businesses have been steadily increasing the size of their workforce. Nissin Brake, in Rock Spring, has increased its number of employees by about one-third during recent months and Unique Fabrication, in LaFayette, has added several dozen new hires this year.

"Right now we are looking at the possibility of three more expansions at existing businesses," Brooks said. "There seems to be renewed interest not just in Walker County but throughout this region.

"There is a lot of activity in the automotive industry, which is drawing attention to our area, and we regularly receive inquiries from companies interested in locating or relocating a business here."