Transporting goods may have gotten the local industry headlines in 2020, especially with Amazon’s arrival in South Hall, but making things is still big business in Hall County.
That’s been highlighted recently with an announcement by Cottrell, a Gainesville-based maker of over-the-road car haulers and equipment, that it is planning to invest $125 million in a 500,000-square-foot plant in the city’s new 1,300-acre Gainesville 85 Business Park.
“Hall County has been an extraordinary place to grow our business, and we are excited to continue our next phase with the people of this community,” said Cottrell CEO Danny Zink. “This new state-of-the-art expansion will allow Cottrell to meet and exceed customer and employee needs and expectations for decades to come.”
The new “North Campus” facility “will bring many of the company’s operations under one roof,” the release says.
The company expects construction to take up to 30 months to complete with work getting underway this summer.
The business park is on Allen Creek Road near Athens Highway/U.S. 129 on property the city has owned since 1990. The new Cottrell plant will occupy the first phase of the development.
expected to be really booming at the end of 2021, as the manufacturer and designer of ride dynamics products for bicycles and powered vehicles expects as many as 1,200 employees to fill the building at 2500 West Park Drive.
Another large company, Fox Factory, found a home off Atlanta Highway/Ga. 13 in Gainesville last year.
Fox started the plant with some 300 workers, company officials said.
“Our powered vehicle business has been expanding at low double-digit growth per year in the last couple of years, and we expect to continue on that growth trajectory for many years to come,” said Vivek Bhakuni, director of investor relations and business development.
The plant is currently building suspension products “geared around off-road vehicles,” said Joseph Cobian, senior director of manufacturing and general manager.
“A lot of our shocks are more adventurous, performance-style,” he said. “They’re not your everyday shocks. It is an elite (product) that is done by hand.”
The Gainesville plant is Fox’s first “vertically integrated” factory, meaning the building is laid out in such a way that products move from materials arriving on one side of the building to finished products and shipping on the other side.
The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce noted in its 2021 Economic Development report that 2020 featured 12 new and expanded businesses in Gainesville-Hall County, adding 460 jobs and $200 million in capital investment.
And many of those were manufacturers.
One of the larger expansions of an existing business involves Mars Wrigley Confectionery, which has been in South Hall for a half-century. The $60 million investment entailed adding production lines and more employee work spaces, equipment purchases, as well as building improvements, such as a new roof and lighting, Arends said.
Alfrex, a Korean manufacturer of fireproof exterior panels, invested $6.2 million to create 30 new jobs at the company’s new North American headquarters, sales and manufacturing facility in McCraney Property Co.’s 985 Lanier Logistics Center in South Hall.
Dongwon Tech Corp., a Korean supplier of heating, ventilation and air conditioning ducts and medical imaging systems, is planning to invest $700,000 to open a 20,000-square-foot advanced manufacturing facility and sales office off Centennial Drive in Gainesville, according to the chamber report.
Also, Geveko Markings, a Swedish manufacturer, completed its 80,000-square-foot North American headquarters and manufacturing facility in Gainesville Business Park off Calvary Church Road. The company produces thermoplastic road and pavement markings.
Overall, manufacturers and food processing companies make up about 25% of Hall County’s workforce, said Tim Evans, vice president of economic development for the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.
One of the more recently relevant companies is Atex at 2600 W. Park Drive, Gainesville. The company makes nonwoven material used in the N-95 mask, which is a key part of the personal protective equipment worn to combat COVID-19.
“We tried to help as much as we could,” said Luca di Benedetto, Atex president and CEO.
One longtime Hall manufacturer, Kubota Manufacturing of America Corp., is building a new Research and Development Center on 280 acres near Ga. 365.
The $85 million project will create 67 jobs primarily in engineering and other technical fields.
The plant is set to open in April 2022.