If there is one thing that makes a long term impact on Polk County in the years to come from the year that was, it will be this: existing industries are investing in the community, and now hiring signs are back up all over the place.

No matter what side of the county one lives on, the announcement of investments by some of the largest local employers made a difference. One way to tell: a drop in unemployment.

Back in November, the state released initial figures for the month of October, and Polk County came in at the time — before any holiday additional hiring at stores — with a 4.8 percent unemployment rate. Compared to the year before at 6 percent before the election of 2016, the rate has dropped 1.2 points in a year. That also includes a change in the number of people available in the civilian workforce in the county, which went up from 18,226 in 2016 to 18,382 as of the start of the second fiscal quarter of the year.

And for November, the statewide unemployment rate was at just 4.3 percent, two-tenths of a percentage point above the national average of 4.1 percent.

This is all certainly good news for Development Authority of Polk County president and CEO Missy Kendrick, who started in her job in late 2016 with a goal of getting more people back to work in Polk County.

She said that with 10 manufacturers having announced expansions this year in existing industries in Polk County, it has contributed $65 million in capital investment and before all is said and done will create 325 new jobs in the community.

“This means that the companies that do business here day in and day out have confidence in the direction we are heading, and are willing to risk their dollars on it. It is imperative that we be good stewards of their trust and continue to cultivate a positive business atmosphere,” Kendrick said. “We have seen an unprecedented number of prospects in both retail and industrial, and we are poised for quality growth.”

She too is looking forward to what can be done in the year ahead, and she has a lot to work with. There remains plenty of space to sell in both Cedartown and Rockmart industrial parks, and additional space still unused like the Northside Industrial Park’s Spec Building finished in 2014.

“I am excited to think about what 2018 might bring,” Kendrick said. “The Development Authority of Polk County will continue to strengthen our relationship with our existing industries and will work to bring in new corporate partners who want to be a part of our bright future.”

Here’s some highlights of a few of those announcements from 2017:

Polk County’s biggest employers adding more

Aircraft parts company Meggitt, who operates out of what used to be the plant that made balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and more, announced a big upcoming expansion.

The UK-based company is spending $30 million and will hire 211 new people in a plant that already has more than 1,000 working within.

A majority of the investment will go toward new equipment and hires at Meggitt, and some will also go toward new construction and upgrades at their plant.

Gov. Nathan Deal’s office announced the deal back in August.

Work wraps up on Kimoto Tech’s new production line

Officials from Japan and locally gathered back in October to usher in a new day at Kimoto Tech in Cedartown as new equipment switched on for the first time at the film coating firm.

The Japanese-based firm made their first new investment into Cedartown in several decades with the new production line and upgrades to another in a $6 million expansion of what the company can produce. Their coatings end up in a variety of products, including items like phone screen covers, on the market today.

Company president Kazunobu Kimoto and Japan’s Consul General Takashi Shinozuka, among many other local, state and international officials were on hand for the ribbon-cutting event on Oct. 3.

Kimoto Tech Inc. President Miguel Leal said that the production line is ready to take part in the coming expansion of technological innovation across the globe with something as simple as film coating products, which are already used in products like smart phones and tablets across the globe.

“Over the course of the past three decades, this manufacturing facility and research center has contributed to the local economy, has supported numerous industries, employed hundreds of people and seeks to deliver the next generation of films needed for future markets,” Leal said. “These future markets which consumers now refer to as smart or autonomous devices, robotics and cloud-based interfaces that relate to the internet of things. Our future will be shaped by artificial intelligence, virtual reality and products that have not yet been invented.”

“Our company, this manufacturing plant, has witnessed no less than 3 product life cycles during its history. We today are preparing ourselves with the newest technology available for coating operations to support technologies that are far better known as concepts and venture capital opportunities than defined known products.”

JCG Farms Feed Mill work underway after explosion

The former feed mill damaged in an explosion that killed one and injured others in early 2016 came tumbling down before the end of last year, and as soon as the debris was cleared away by the beginning of 2017, the work began in earnest to bring it back.

A multi-million rebuild continues at the feed mill site on Highway 101 as a pair of towers, new silos and more have slowly risen to change the skyline of Rockmart during the past year. As of the Standard Journal’s last pass by of the plant, construction was underway still in mid-December.

Cedarstream announces big investment to spread out

Local T-shirt printing company Cedarstream is set to move out of their current home next to the Cedartown Museum of Coca-Cola Memorabilia (also owned by the Morris family) to someplace they can spread out and do more.

They’ll be looking to move sometime in 2018, but announced in late August a plan for building a 38,800 square-foot facility in the Northside Industrial Park and spending an undisclosed amount in the process.

No work has begun yet on the new building project as of press time.

Cedarstream is hoping with the move and new facility they’ll be able to increase the amount of orders they take now, and stop having to turn away business in the process.

The family-run business has their current location in Cedartown on Main Street, and a storefront in Rome.

HON Co. spending to hire, re-tool at Cedartown plant

Dozens of new jobs and expansion of furniture products made in the HON Co.’s Cedartown plant was also announced back in August.

The Muscatine, Iowa-based company plans to spend $14.5 million and hire 60 new workers in an effort to re-tool and make the plant more efficient as well.

Much of the spending will be on new equipment, but HON also will bring in new workers as their office furniture offerings built locally changes.