In a move that could displace Gainesville’s Driver Services location, poultry company Mar-Jac is planning an $171 million expansion of its Gainesville-based operations over the next 3-5 years.
The project would include a new 150,000-square-foot building next to Mar-Jac’s operations at 1020 Aviation Blvd.
The company, which now employs 1,200-1,250 workers, could end up hiring another 125, said Mulham Shbeib, the company’s chief financial officer, Tuesday, Oct. 4.
New automation technology and robotics could cut down on the need to hire many additional employees in certain areas, such as shipping and packaging.
“Right now, we have a lot of human involvement,” Shbeib said, speaking to the Gainesville and Hall County Development Authority.
With the expansion, the plant will go from slaughtering 2.2 million chickens per week to 3.4 million.
“We’re real excited about this project,” Shbeib said. “We think it has a lot of value.”
Mar-Jac, which describes itself online as a “a fully integrated poultry processor committed to the food service industry,” has acquired 4 acres for the project and is “in the process of getting” another 15 acres from the Georgia Department of Driver Services.
“We’re going to build the (department) a new facility,” Shbeib said. “We have to buy them land, build the facility, and then their facility will become ours.”
Susan Sports, the department’s spokeswoman, didn’t have immediate information about Mar-Jac’s project or potential relocation.
The state facility is relatively new, opening in 2019 to replace an aging center.
At the time, Spencer Moore, commissioner of the Georgia DDS, described the new center as a “state-of-the-art facility” that was built to accommodate Gainesville's growing population.
The development authority voiced support for Mar-Jac’s project, approving an “inducement resolution.”
The resolution is one of the initial steps in Mar-Jac issuing industrial development bonds through the authority, said Tim Evans, the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s vice president of economic development.