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Lumpkin County may get 1,000 new jobs

Gold Creek Foods buys now-closed Mohawk plant

POSTED: April 14, 2009 11:11 p.m.

A former carpet yarn plant in Dahlonega is about to be sold as a poultry further-processing plant with prospects for 1,000 new jobs.

Gold Creek Foods of Dawsonville signed a letter of intent this week to purchase the Mohawk Industries plant in Dahlonega to expand its food operations. Gold Creek Foods is a subsidiary of privately held Agora Inc., also based in Dawsonville.

On April 9, 2008, Mohawk announced it would close the plant in June, leaving 366 workers without a job.

The plant, which opened in 1955, was the first industry in what was then a remote mountain town. It was known by locals as the "Pine Tree" plant, a reference to the thicket of loblolly pines that surrounds the 375,000-square-foot facility, which has nine acres of covered manufacturing space.

The building was marketed by the Lumpkin County Development Authority since Mohawk ceased its carpet fiber production at the site. Exact terms of the intended purchase were not disclosed; the property was listed at $3.5 million.

Gold Creek foods, founded in 2003, produces specialty food products to restaurant, retail, institutional and grocery customers. It currently has more than 600 employees at its Dawsonville plant.

Company co-founder and CEO Mark Sosebee said the Dahlonega plant offers a natural expansion of their business.

"We’ve scouted suitable properties in several states," Sosebee said. "North Georgia is the heart of the nation’s poultry industry and the nearby opportunities to expand and offer solid employment opportunities in a distressed economy helped lead us to the Mohawk facility."

He said officials with Dahlonega, Lumpkin County and the development authority were eager to see the industrial site returned to use.

"The city of Dahlonega is proud to welcome this new industry to the old Mohawk plant," Mayor Gary McCullough said. "What a great addition to our town at a time when we need good news."

Lumpkin County commission chairman John Raber called the news "the greatest burst of sunshine to light on this county in 10 years."

Gold Creek Foods plans to waste no time in getting the plant ready. The company said an architectural redesign will begin for the structural renovations and specialty equipment used in further processing of poultry as soon as the transaction is closed.

The company expects to begin production in the plant by the end of the year and initially will hire 100 new workers, but that number could go higher.

"With so much in place already, this plant could have the capacity to employ more than 1,000 at full production," said Michael Farmer, Gold Creek Foods executive vice president and co-founder.



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