Grant public hearing
When: 5 p.m. Monday
Where: Oakwood City Hall, 4035 Walnut Circle
More info: 770-534-2365
Expecting a burst of traffic from King’s Hawaiian’s planned expansion, Oakwood is seeking grant money to help with related road improvements.
The South Hall city plans to seek a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs’ Employment Incentive Program.
To fulfill a legal requirement in that process, Oakwood has set a public hearing on the application for 5 p.m. Monday at Oakwood City Hall, 4035 Walnut Circle.
The incentive program can help pay for a variety of projects, but those “creating opportunities for low- and moderate-income persons to advance themselves by obtaining employment, greater job security, better working conditions, job training, enhancement of workplace skills and advancement opportunities receive the greatest consideration,” states the DCA website.
Oakwood has received a letter indicating the city is eligible for funding.
“It’s just a matter of whether there’s funding (for the project),” City Manager Stan Brown said.
California-based bakery King’s Hawaiian, which has been operating in a 120,000-square-foot plant since the fall of 2011, plans to double production at its current plant at 5420 H.F. Reed Industrial Parkway and build a neighboring 120,000-square-foot facility over the next year, creating more than 400 jobs by 2016, officials have said.
The company now employs about 160 people, so the total employment could hit 560.
Also, officials expect that when the expansion is completed, King’s Hawaiian will have invested $100 million into its Hall County operations.
King’s Hawaiian CEO Mark Taira has said the end result could be that a majority of the family-owned company’s employees would work in Oakwood by about 2014 or 2015.
“With this significant investment, King’s Hawaiian is putting bread on the table in Hall County in more ways than one,” Gov. Nathan Deal has said.
Oakwood also is seeking another $300,000 for the roadwork from the Appalachian Regional Commission, an economic development agency that provides funding for projects in a region stretching from Alabama to New York, including a swath of Georgia that takes in Hall County.
The road project calls for shifting M. Stringer Road, which juts off the two-lane H.F. Reed, “a little to the west” and modifying its grade, Brown said.
“Right now, if you look at the King’s Hawaiian site, it sits kind of lower than the road,” he said. “The road was built before King’s Hawaiian had selected that location ... (and) based on our best knowledge of how that site would develop.
“Now that we have a real user there and they have some real needs for their plant expansion — the parking lot and all that supports it — we see the road needs to be shifted. And it will be built and designed in a manner where you could carry it all the way to McEver Road.”
Brown has said he believes the King’s Hawaiian expansion “even more emphasizes the need for access” to Interstate 985 and at least a need for a traffic signal at H.F. Reed and Thurmon Tanner Parkway.
H.F. Reed now runs between McEver and Thurmon Tanner. The H.F. Reed-McEver intersection has a signal.
In the early stages of planning is a road project that would extend H.F. Reed over I-985, connecting it with Martin Road at Ga. 13/Atlanta Highway and creating the Exit 14 interchange.