Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority expected to announce new distribution center

The Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority plans to announce a “major investment” Monday that’s expected to be a 960,000-square-foot distribution center in the I-75 Business Park.

The authority has been a finalist since March for a 200-job distribution center in the park. In April, it requested a state regional impact study of a distribution center, and Monday the authority got approval of a 71-percent tax abatement from the Bibb County Board of Education for a $20 million facility.

The project has had an assortment of code names: “Labrador,” “Circle,” and now “Sun.” The Atlanta Business Chronicle has reported the company to be Tractor Supply Co., a retail farm and ranch store chain with a half-dozen stores in Middle Georgia.

The Industrial Authority plans an announcement for 11 a.m. Monday at the cul-de-sac off Frank Amerson Parkway in the business park, according to an invitation from authority Chairman Cliffard Whitby. The speaker list includes Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and other state and local leaders to “symbolize the teamwork that went into this effort,” Whitby wrote.

The authority also has set a called meeting for 9 a.m. Monday. The agenda includes a closed session to discuss the possible purchase of property “for or from the authority.”

Whitby said Thursday he could not discuss details of the announcement. Code names are given to projects to protect the identity of the companies, and economic development officials also sign confidentiality agreements.

“There are a few things that are really, really close,” Whitby said. “It’s not appropriate to say which one it is.”

At Monday’s school board meeting, officials cited an impact study by Macon State College’s Center for Economic Analysis that estimated that Project Sun’s $20 million new facility would create 140 new permanent jobs and 400 construction jobs. The study put the project’s annual payroll at about $4 million.

According to the regional impact study from the Middle Georgia Regional Commission, the distribution center project would be a “65 percent” phase that would be completed in the fourth quarter of 2013. Its location was listed as fronting Frank Amerson Parkway near Sardis Church Road.

Efforts Thursday to contact Tractor Supply Co. through its corporate office and through companies that handle its public relations were unsuccessful.

The I-75 Business Park -- a joint project of the industrial authority and Macon Water Authority -- just finished $3.2 million in infrastructure upgrades, paid in part by a federal disaster grant after the 2008 Mother’s Day tornadoes. The grant was awarded for economic stimulus, and it was used to expand water and sewer, build a three-laned road into the park and erect a 1-million-gallon water tank on the other side of Hartley Bridge Road. The tank serves commercial and residential users.

To contact writer Rodney Manley, call 744-4623.