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Activity at Pecan Grove Industrial Park positive economic sign for Dougherty County

Most available land at the south Albany industrial park is in use

Construction is well under way on a new facility for the Georgia Federal/State Shipping Point Inspection Service at the Pecan Grove Industrial Park in southern Dougherty County. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

Construction is well under way on a new facility for the Georgia Federal/State Shipping Point Inspection Service at the Pecan Grove Industrial Park in southern Dougherty County. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

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Construction crews were busy Wednesday at the new Georgia Federal/State Shipping Point Inspection Service facility that will be located in the Dougherty County-owned industrial park across from the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

ALBANY — What a difference a good year can make.

Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission President Ted Clem told the organization’s board at its December meeting Wednesday that activity at the now almost full Pecan Grove Industrial Park in 2013 offers evidence of an improving economy in the county.

Clem said only three active tenants were operating at the industrial park at the start of 2012, but a flurry of activity since then has paved the way for possible retail growth in the southern part of the county.

“We’re rapidly filling up that park,” Clem told the board. “And with more traffic out that way, there’s a very real possibility that it could spur economic growth on the retail side.”

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Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission officials say growth in 2013 has taken up most of the available land at the Pecan Grove Industrial Park in the southern part of the county. (Staff Photo: Carlton Fletcher)

Among the new tenants at the park are American Detergent Company (a subsidiary of Equinox Chemicals); Better Brands, which kept its Albany business in town and expanded its facility from 70,000 square feet to 140,000 square feet; the Georgia Federal/State Shipping Point Inspection Service, and land purchased by Phoebe Health System that will be used as part of a joint venture with other area health care systems to provide health care supplies.

“We expect groundbreaking soon on the (Phoebe-purchased) facility, and they have asked for first refusal on adjacent property in the industrial park for possible future expansion,” Clem said.

EDC Director of Marketing and Existing Industries Barbara Rivera Holmes said the Better Brands project impacted 95 local jobs and will have a $4 million impact on the community.

“They retained the 50 jobs that they’d had (before the move) and added 45 new jobs,” Holmes said.

Economic Development Commission Vice President Justin Strickland said the industrial park, located to the immediate south of the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport is one of a few Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development sites in the state. Strickland said the “shovel-ready” facility is drawing interest from companies both foreign and domestic.

Clem said the EDC had hosted a number of industrial leaders from Georgia and executives with “three local companies that are expansion candidates” for a “pre-Georgia Quail Hunt” excursion at local plantations. “We wanted an opportunity to talk with them in a relaxed environment,” Recruitment Task Force chairman Chris Hatcher said of the hunt.

While discussing a visit this week to Procter & Gamble’s Albany plant, Clem noted that the home products manufacturer had spent more than $500 million on the local plant over the last 10 years, “a good chunk of it in the last two.”

The EDC board recognized three outgoing members at the final meeting of 2013: Miles Espy, Christopher Pike and Aaron Johnson. Johnson said he is leaving the board to concentrate on a planned run for the Dougherty County School Board.