The Rome-Floyd County Development Authority approved an amended inducement resolution in support of a Kerry Foods expansion Tuesday.
The expansion was announced in March, but the COVID-19 slowdown led Kerry to reevaluate some of its plans. Rather than a cutback, their capital investment will rise slightly to right at $125 million.
The Irish baking conglomerate plans to add 125 jobs to its plant on Douglas Street.
The authority held its first in-person meeting in the agency’s new office suite in the Manis Business Center, at the corner of Broad Street and Turner McCall Boulevard.
Kerry took over the old Southeastern Mills seasoning and coatings division late in 2018. Gerry Behan, CEO of Kerry Taste & Nutrition, said the $125 million investment is the largest ever for the company’s North American division.
The expansion is being tailored to enhance Kerry’s product line in the poultry and seafood markets. When complete, sometime in 2021, the project will double product capacity.
In other actions, Authority President Missy Kendrick said she and Project Manager Heather Seckman are working with 32 prospects at this time. Much of the contact in recent weeks has been by teleconference.
“I think this (COVID-19) is going to change the way we do economic development,” Kendrick said.
Also, Will Brackett and Kirk Jarrett, auditors with Nichols, Cauley & Associates, presented a clean audit of the authority’s financial statement during the Tuesday morning meeting.
They said the authority was probably smart in transferring $65,000 from a certificate of deposit paying very little interest to a cash account.
The auditors and Synovus Northwest Division President Scott Preston, a member of the RFCDA, agreed that now is a good time to borrow with extremely low interest rates. That prompted Rome Mayor Bill Collins to ask if that’s good for companies that might be looking to locate in Rome and Floyd County.
“I think there are opportunities for those who want to grow aggressively,” Jarrett said.
Authority Chairman Jimmy Byars said the authority is working with staff to put together a ribbon-cutting and tour of the new offices, on the first floor of the former Georgia Power headquarters building. Byars said he anticipates that event could be held sometime later this summer.