Despite the pandemic slowing down the nation’s economy and impacting many small businesses across Georgia, several manufacturers like Amcor and Thomson Plastics here in McDuffie County are expanding.
“The industries in McDuffie seem to be, at worst, holding their own with some expansions such as Amcor,” said Don Powers, President and CEO of Forward McDuffie, the umbrella organization for economic development in McDuffie County.
“McDuffie County is very fortunate in that regard. In general, the local business economy has been struggling since the pandemic began, especially with decisions on how to go about day-to-day business. That uncertainty is only made worse by current infection conditions.” Elaine McLatchie, vice president of operations at Amcor, Inc., told the Progress the company is adding product lines to the plant and expects to hire about 100 new employees.
“Amcor has developed lightweight, high strength polymers that are being produced in our new facility (Plant 7) that was constructed last year,” McLatchie said in an email. “We recently purchased some very large machines that are being installed in our newest facility (Plant 8), currently under construction. This technology will significantly reduce the transportation industry's carbon footprint.”
She added that Plant 7 and 8 will each be built out to 50,000 square-feet. McLatchie also announced that as of Jan. 15, Amcor’s Board of Directors appointed Matthew R. Powell president of Amcor, Inc.
Powers described how the McDuffie County Industrial Development Authority has assisted Amcor in the past and how the group could aid the company in future.
“The development authority invested pretty heavily in utility improvements (water mains) made necessary by the expansion of 2018. Additional utility improvements are not necessary for the square footage that they are adding currently. We have also had preliminary discussions regarding rail spur upgrades, but nothing concrete has been developed yet.”
Thomson Plastics ongoing expansion is being supported in part by a loan from the City of Thomson. Local government officials confirmed that the city agreed to award the company a $250,000 loan.
In a news release issued by Forward McDuffie last week, the development authority announced that the City of Thomson would authorize a $250,000 loan to Thomson Plastics, matching the total loan amount the development authority committed to award the manufacturer. The city did vote to provide the loan, based on the loan committee’s recommendation made Jan. 7, and after the loan was approved by the Department of Community Affairs, confirmed City Clerk Lucretia Ferguson.
“The loans, along with Thomson Plastics’ own investment, will enable their expansion of operations and create 44 new jobs for our local economy. This is a great public-private partnership and shows our commitment to our local businesses, confirming that Thomson and McDuffie County are open and ready for business,” states the release.
Thomson Plastics is making an investment of $1,494,000 toward its expansion, according to Powers.
The development authority board initially agreed to assist Thomson Plastics with its growth and job creation efforts during a virtual meeting held earlier this month.
Authority board member and Thomson Plastics CFO Chuck Irminger had briefed the board about the company’s ongoing improvements which included purchasing molding presses.
Irminger then recused himself from further discussion and the board’s financial deliberation.
The board then agreed to give the plastics manufacturer $125,000 in EIP (Employee Incentive Program) Revolving Loan Funds and $125,000 in local authority funds for a total of $250,000, which the city matched.
The board then suggested the city provide Thomson Plastics revolving loan fund monies in the amount of $250,000 to assist with job creation, which city leaders agreed to do.
McDuffie County Industrial Development Authority Board Chairman Riley Stamey previously told the Progress revolving loan funds are “used for low interest loans, leases, or other activities to expand economic opportunities, principally for the persons of low and moderate-income.”
“These funds in part help local industry and retail business create jobs in the community,” Stamey said. “The key to economic recovery is creating jobs. This fund is one tool used by local governments to attract new business to the area or to encourage business expansion.” Stamey added that both McDuffie County and the City of Thomson have revolving loan funds.
“The county fund is administered by the development authority, and the city fund is administered by an appointed local committee,” he explained.
Powers reiterated that the development authority has given Thomson Plastics financial support in the past.
“There have been several expansions, some of which have been supported with loans from the development authority and the City of Thomson,” he said. “The funds are were almost exclusively EIP revolving loan funds and always involved increased employment levels.”
Thomson Plastics had about 10-12 employees when the company first located to McDuffie, according to Powers. The plant now has about 200 workers, a number anticipated to grow once the expansion is complete and more employees are hired.