Greater Dalton Diversifies Manufacturing Sector
With a solid foundation in one industry and an eye on building strength in several more, possibilities for the future of business in the Greater Dalton region are endless. While the region's reputation as the “Carpet Capital of the World” has served as an effective calling card for industries, city and county leaders have embarked on an aggressive strategy to build on that notoriety by attracting a wider diversity of manufacturers.
“We have tremendous resources available for a host of businesses to locate here,” says Brian Anderson, president of the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce. “We have a well-defined economic development strategy and are actively seeking diverse projects to complement our existing industry.”
Businesses Expand, Bring Jobs
Armed with excellent transportation and utility assets, creative financing incentives and new industrial land development, the Greater Dalton region has achieved several key successes toward this objective. Adhesive manufacturer XL Brands announced in early 2011 that it would consolidate its manufacturing operations and build a 122,000-square-foot facility at the new Carbondale Business Park, a Class A industrial park located off I-75. The company purchased a 16.3-acre site on the park property and will employ 50 workers when the plant is completed.
“XL Brands has been a long-standing corporate citizen in this community and their decision to consolidate operations at our new Carbondale Business Park will strengthen our local economy and provide quality jobs for our community,” says Mike Babb, chairman of the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners.
Joseph Tuttolomondo, vice president and general manager of XL Brands LLC, says the company is looking forward to expanding its existing workforce in Dalton.
“The Joint Development Authority and county officials were extremely helpful in coordinating their efforts to have the industrial park ready for us to build our plant," he says.
In May 2011, IVC U.S. Inc. opened its North American headquarters and new manufacturing plant in Dalton. A subsidiary of Belgian-based IVC, the company makes sheet vinyl used in residential flooring. Completion of the $75 million plant brought 115 new jobs to the community, giving it a total of 150 employees in Dalton.
IVC, which has operated a distribution facility in Dalton since 2002, decided a few years ago to conduct a nationwide search for its headquarters/plant site, but found the best option in its own backyard.
“We reviewed proposals and looked at sites in many areas of the country,” says Xavier Steyaert, chief executive officer of IVC U.S., Inc. “Ultimately, we’ve established strong roots here in the state of Georgia. So many positive factors combined to end our journey where it began – back home in Dalton.”
Along with being a logistical center for the flooring industry, there were several reasons for choosing Dalton, including the pro-business mentality of city and county leaders, solid relationships with local vendors and a “flooring-skilled” labor market, Steyaert says.
The 44-acre IVC facility encompasses 520,000 square feet, with another half a million square feet of expansion space. Equipped with state-of-the-art machinery, it features the longest vinyl line in the world and green-friendly technology, such as solar panels and a closed loop water recycling system. Recently, the Dalton-Whitfield County Joint Development Authority purchased a 42-acre tract at the Whitfield Properties Business Park to enable Engineered Floors, a floor covering business, to lease and build a new manufacturing facility. The $65 million, 200,000-square-foot facility will employ an anticipated 200 workers when it opens this year, with expansion for an additional 100 workers in the process for late 2012.
Opportunities for Growth in Auto Production, Other Industries
Dalton is hoping to benefit from the recent expansion of the automotive industry in Chattanooga, where Volkswagen began building Passats in its new assembly facility. One auto parts maker, Shiroki Corporation, which makes door frames and other parts for Toyota and Nissan, has already expanded its operations, adding more than 100 jobs in the Dalton community. Lyle Industries, which makes interior products for a range of automakers, has also grown recently.
Elyse Cochran, executive director of the Joint Development Authority, says that Greater Dalton's solid infrastructure built over the years to support the carpeting industry is very compatible with what is needed to support many other types of companies from other industries, including chemicals, plastics, advanced manufacturing, automotive, data centers and high-end retail projects.