Joint Development Authority optimistic about growth
by Clay Neely
Optimistic business developments were abundant at a meeting of the Coweta, Fayette, Meriwether Joint Development Authority, which held a quarterly meeting on Friday at the Newnan Courthouse.
Representatives Matt Foreshee and Emily Poole from Fayette County left with very promising news of continuing business developments, most notably the ongoing construction of Pinewood Studios. The entire project is expected to cost $175 million and will consume 300 acres of land.
Phase one of Pinewood, currently scheduled to open in January 2014, will have five sound stages. The estimated cost is close to $30 million. 150 suppliers will come with Pinewood. The full buildout is expected to produce approximately 3,500 jobs, though not all will be full-time positions. The studio expects around 800 people needed within two years of opening.
Fayette County also received word that the Panasonic Automotive facility has announced their plans to hire 150 software engineers over the next 24 months. The facility will convert 70,000 square feet of manufacturing space into engineering and product testing operations with their focus primarily on the “infotainment” division.
Panasonic currently employs 500 people to develop advanced navigation systems, speech recognition and Bluetooth technology and infotainment interfaces. The new jobs will include engineers, earning around $85,000 annually. Panasonic also will add corporate jobs, including IT, human resources and accounting.
Jane Fryer, from Meriwether County, reported that the Mando Corporation America is poised to be Meriwether’s county’s largest employer. The Korean supplier to Kia and Hyundai also supplies anti-lock brakes and steering systems to GM, Chrysler and others.
Mando Corporation America announced their first facility in Meriwether Park in September 2011 and hope to employ 425 persons at peak employment. The corporation announced a steel casting facility in December 2012, which will employ 660.
Greg Wright, president of the Coweta County Development Authority, spoke on behalf of the City of Newnan on continuing to move forward with plans to renovate the former Newnan Hospital property on Jackson Street for the University of West Georgia Newnan campus. Meanwhile, West Georgia Technical College is nearing the end of construction on the two buildings at the new Coweta campus on Turkey Creek Road.
The official ribbon-cutting for WGTC is scheduled for Sept. 20. Wright believes that having the new WGTC campus will be extremely substantial for the community in terms of demonstrating to prospective business investors a feel for the local economy.
Other notable items on the agenda included the contract for the Georgia 400 toll booth demolition being won by Southeastern Site Development of Newnan.
The firm, which specializes in transportation, civil, site preparation, underground utilities and concrete flatwork projects, will complete the nearly year-long project at a cost of $3.5 million.
Newnan city officials have also announced the location for the new Public Safety Center on Jefferson Street close to the old section of Oak Hill Cemetery on land where the Newnan Housing Authority’s former Hannah Homes once resided.