On Friday, Gov. Deal’s office sent out a press release announcing 900 new jobs in Jackson County, just up I-85 from Gwinnett County.
Gov. Nathan Deal announced today that Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. will open an e-commerce fulfillment center in Pendergrass in Jackson County. Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. will create up to 900 jobs over four years, and invest approximately $50 million. The company plans to be operational by summer 2012.
“Georgia’s ability to attract industry-leading businesses is affirmed when we can successfully help a thriving company like Bed Bath & Beyond carry out its plans for business expansion right here in our state,” Deal said. “Bed Bath & Beyond will certainly benefit not only from our competitive business climate and workforce, but also our widely recognized logistics infrastructure that will help the company efficiently meet the distribution needs of its growing e-commerce business.”
Bed Bath & Beyond Inc.’s Jackson County e-commerce fulfillment center will service the company’s expanding online sales operations. The company currently operates 29 retail stores in Georgia and has more than 1,150 stores total. Bed Bath & Beyond also plans to make considerable use of Georgia’s world-class container port facilities in Savannah.
But the real money quote comes several paragraphs later.
“We are proud to welcome Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. to Jackson County. What a tremendous boost for Jackson County, the surrounding region and the State of Georgia,” said Hunter Bicknell, chairman of the Jackson County Commission. “Even during these trying economic times, it is projects like this and job creation of this magnitude that we are reminded of the economic strength of our community and the State of Georgia.”
With a 2010 population of about 61,000, this is a major deal for Jackson County. In overly simplistic terms, it’s equivalent to adding nearly 12,000 jobs in Gwinnett County, which has a population of over 800,000.
In political terms, it may be a major advantage for Jackson County Commission Chair Hunter Bicknell, who recently joined the race for Congress in the new Ninth Congressional District.
The ninth district race hosts three additional Republican candidates; State Rep. Doug Collins, radio host Martha Zoller and businessman Clifton McDuffie.
McDuffie, a former head of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce who worked with the City of Oakwood to develop its industrial park also has a compelling claim as someone who understands how to bring new jobs to the area. But McDuffie may further fragment Hall County’s strength as the most populous county in the district, while Bicknell should have solid support out of Jackson, the second-most populous.
Announcing his candidacy, Bicknell made much of his business experience, saying “Unlike many people in Washington, I’ve actually had to make a payroll.” Now he can add to that Jackson County’s successful luring of the Bed Bath and Beyond facility. Whether Bicknell is able to capitalize on the news remains to be seen, but the boost to Jackson County employment, with the new facility coming online next summer could not be more fortuitous.