JMS Russel Metals Corp. has just finished a 40,000-square-foot addition that almost doubled its footprint at the Dade County Industrial Park in Trenton, Ga.
"We can move the plates, load the trucks a lot easier," said Shane Gilbreath, sales manager for the fabrication plant that cuts and shapes huge metal plates for such customers as boat trailer manufacturers and lumber mills.
JMS Russel Metals Corp. has a total of eight processing and distribution facilities in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas and Kentucky. Before the expansion, company officials considered relocation, Gilbreath said, but decided to stay put in Trenton.
"It's a good location for us," he said. "We're just right off [Interstate] 59."
Dade County Industrial Development Authority officials hope that's a trend that continues — and grows.
The authority is marketing phase two of its industrial park. Officials hope that the new park's designation as being shovel-ready and having some of the best tax breaks in the state will help bring jobs to Dade County, which still stings from the 2008 closure of Shaw Industries' spun yarn plant in Trenton.
"We lost 440 jobs," authority Executive Director Peter Cervelli said. "We're still trying to recover from that."
The new industrial park, named Trenton-Dade Phase II, is a "greenfield" on a 250-acre former farm with about 150 developable acres, he said. It's next to the original industrial park near city hall and close to the Norfolk-Southern railroad main line.
"It's the farm of the former mayor of Chattanooga, [Rudy] Olgiati," Cervelli said. "It's an open field for the most part. We've taken some of the trees off of it, to open it up a little more."
One selling point for the authority is that the industrial park is located in a "less-developed census tract." That means manufacturers can get what the authority describes as the best job tax credits that Georgia has to offer, or $3,500 per job for each of five years.
And the new industrial park is designated as a Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development (GRAD) site. The authority spent about $50,000 on such site prep as environmental studies and soil boring to obtain the shovel-ready designation, authority Chairman Nathan Wooten said.
"I think it really does [help]," Wooten said. "We've had a half dozen [companies] come look at our new industrial park. We've had a number of Volkswagen vendors that have been down a couple of times."
While some of those prospects haven't panned out, Cervelli said that there's strong interest from a business code-named "Project Moon" by the state.
Wooten said, "We're confident we're going to get a major project pretty soon. We're just glad to still be in the running on this Project Moon thing."
Another existing business that chose to expand in the current industrial park is the medical device manufacturer Lake Region Medical, a multinational business formerly known as Accellent. It's adding 26,000 square feet to its facility, Cervelli said. Company officials couldn't be reached for comment.
Other area industrial parks tried to woo the business away from Trenton, Wooten said.
"They started getting contact by South Pittsburgh, Fort Payne, Chattanooga — everybody within 100 miles from here," he said.
Even developers who wanted to build a new facility for the medical device manufacturer pitched the notion to Dade County officials.
"We started getting calls from developers," said Wooten, who described the brush-off they'd get. "Are you talking about Accellent? That sounds like the company we're working with, which is Accellent. So we're not interested in your project."
Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/tim.omarzu or twitter.com/TimOmarzu or 423-757-6651.