It’s always a good day when local leaders can announce a project that will bring 200 jobs to the area. Monday, it was made official, Tractor Supply Co. was coming to southern Bibb County in a big way; a 650,000 square-foot distribution center in the I-75 Business Park, a joint venture of the Macon Water Authority and the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority. The other tenant in the business park is Sara Lee which opened its $24 million facility in 2006.
All the glad-handing is deserved. It’s never easy to attract a company to relocate to an area, particularly in times of economic distress. But the need for a distribution center started with the company’s desire to open another 200 stores, 95 in this year alone. Those stores as well as the company’s other 1,117 stores in 44 states, will be supplied by goods and products brought into the Port of Savannah. Just as various entities from local and state agencies had to work together to get this company to come here, Bibb County residents did their part by approving the SPLOST last year. Remember the $3.9 million that was included in the measure for economic development. That $3.9 million was one of the final pieces of the puzzle.
Certainly there will be those who will charge that our area gave away the farm by providing land, tax abatements and cash for 200 jobs. That, in this day and time, is the way the game is played. There were other communities looking to snag Tractor Supply, but our unique combination of location, incentives and infrastructure won the day.
Bibb County and the surrounding area -- even with our outstanding location -- can’t rely on luck. It was preparation that got this deal done. Having a site with utilities and sewage ready to go means Tractor Supply’s distribution center will be on line next year -- an essential requirement of a company that is planning to grow quickly. Congratulations all on a job well done. What’s next?
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-- Charles E. Richardson, for the Editorial Board.