Twiggs County Academy Sports distribution center to expand, add 250 jobs

Texas-based Academy Sports + Outdoors will expand its existing operation in Twiggs County and create 250 new jobs, according to a news release from Gov. Nathan Deal.

The distribution center plans to add 500,000 square feet to its existing 1.1 million-square-foot facility, where it employs about 625 people. Last year Academy Sports added an e-commerce center at the Twiggs County center, which serves as the fulfillment center for its online business.

Construction to expand the distribution center is expected to be completed by June 2013, the release stated.

“Academy Sports and Outdoors has been a growing business since day one ... and their plans are to continue that expansion growth,” Twiggs County Commission Chairman Ray Bennett said Tuesday. “They are a good professional company.”

The new jobs will provide a welcome relief to Twiggs County and surrounding areas, Bennett said. The Georgia Department of Labor reported in June that the preliminary unemployment rate was 10.8 percent in May. Twiggs is one of 67 counties in the state above 10 percent unemployment.

“We know that in some of the surrounding communities some facilities are closing,” Bennett said.

In May, Lithonia Lighting in Cochran announced it would be closing within six months, putting more than 400 people out of work.

“We have a large number of people from Twiggs County who work there and so I’m very, very pleased (new jobs will be available),” Bennett said.

Efforts Tuesday to reach someone with Academy Sports were unsuccessful.

The expansion “is a vote of confidence for our high-performing logistics infrastructure, our work force and the other business assets that make Georgia competitive,” Deal said in the release. “I am glad to see Academy Sports + Outdoors grow right here in Georgia.”

Twiggs County offered Academy Sports a 10-year tax abatement on the new $44 million expansion, Bennett said. When the initial building was built in 2009, the county gave the company a five-year abatement on a $70 million investment. The company is in its third year of that abatement -- which is prorated every year -- so in two more years the company will be paying taxes on the full value of that portion of the building.

“It’s an indication that the county’s leadership is working toward the right goals and has made our county attractive for people to consider adding on or even locating here,” he said.

The Georgia Department of Economic Development collaborated with the Development Authority of Twiggs County and the Twiggs County Commission to manage the expansion project.

Academy Sports is a sports, outdoor and lifestyle retailer with an assortment of hunting, fishing and camping equipment and gear as well as sports and leisure products, footwear and apparel, the release states. The company operates 142 stores in 11 states mostly in the South.

In 2011, the company was acquired by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., a New York City-based global investment firm.

To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.