German grocery giant Lidl revealed plans to build a huge regional distribution center in Newton County east of Atlanta on Friday.
The announcement officially reverses a decision to build a facility in the Bartow County Highland 75 Industrial Park that had been announced in June of 2017.
The office of then Governor Nathan Deal previously announced plans for Lidl to invest $100 million over five years and create 250 new jobs with the facility in Bartow County. The company planned to occupy a 90-acre tract on the northern edge of the Highland 75 park but had never closed on the purchase.
Bartow County sole Commissioner Steve Taylor said Friday that he has known for some time that Lidl would not be coming to his county and said it was the result of a change in management of the company in Europe and a change in plans for it’s retail network in Georgia.
“It wasn’t a good fit,” Taylor said.
The company apparently decided to move the expansion of its U.S. presence closer to the urban core of Atlanta and Taylor said it made much more sense from a logistical perspective to have the distribution center in the middle of the retail network.
“We certainly wish Lidl all the best in their Covington Distribution Center project and are glad that the project at least will remain in Georgia, if not in Northwest Georgia,” said Melinda Lemmon, executive director of the Cartersville-Bartow County Economic Development office.
In March of 2017, Lidl was identified as the lead anchor for a Butler Development shopping center on Shorter Avenue. By the end of that year, Lidl had backed away from those plans. Subsequently the shopping center project also collapsed.
The management change resulted in a shift of strategy for expansion in the U.S.
Now, Lidl is concentrating on the addition of smaller stores in high traffic urban areas and opened stores last year in Marietta, Snellville and Mableton along with a store near Augusta. Lidl has also acquired 27 Best Market grocery stores in New York and New Jersey to establish a presence in that region.
Taylor said that while there was some disappointment that the company would not be building at the Highland 75 Industrial Park that the park has always been more focused on manufacturing facilities and high paying skilled production jobs as opposed to warehousing.
The commissioner made it very clear though that the new high-tech Chick-fil-A distribution facility which is coming to Bartow County is a most welcome addition in that it involves a, high-tech capital investment and cold storage facility. Taylor said that is also good for the utilities. The Chick-fil-A facility is being built on a 50-acre tract in the Cartersville Business Park off Cass-White Road.