Could the agreement bring the Missouri company 100 new jobs for the economic development of the city of Columbus?
COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — This week, the city of Columbus scored a big economic development win when it landed a Missouri-based pet food flavoring company that will bring 100 new high-paying jobs and a new manufacturing facility that will soon the $80 million.
Governor Brian Kemp’s office announced Thursday that Applied Food Biotechnology will build a new facility at the Muscogee County Technology Park in East Columbus. The city offered the company $5 million in tax relief over the next 10 years and about $1.5 million in ready-to-use properties. The state paid over $400,000 to land AFB.
This agreement with AFB International looks like an old-fashioned economic development. And economic development is just a bureaucratic way of talking about jobs.
AFB International will build from the ground up on nearly 36 acres at the Muscogee Technology Park in East Columbus, not far from the Pratt & Whitney factory.
One of the things that appealed to AFB was the ready-to-build site – and a workforce that can be trained for the jobs that will pay an average of around $55,000 a year.
“When we got there, we found it to be a thriving community,” said Stephanie Hackmann, the company’s vice president for global operations. “It was rich in history in food manufacturing, as well as science and technology. Which corresponded exactly to AFB International.[…]When you think of the technical schools, the post-secondary institutions, in Fort Benning, that’s a great workforce that’s what we need.
A senior state economic development official said Columbus was ready and attractive to AFB International.
“We have to commend the community of Columbus and the foresight they have had in investing in land and infrastructure to really help support projects like these,” said Brittany Young, COO of the Department of Georgia Economic Development and Deputy Commissioner for Global. Trade
And there could be more recruiting opportunities in the pipeline.
“We’re seeing a pipeline that we’ve never seen before,” said Heath Schondelmayer, president of the Columbus Development Authority. “And we’re excited to know where Columbus is in the state of Georgia. Georgia is a state that businesses want to come to. And that’s a testament to the work that Governor Kemp and others are doing.
The Columbus Development Authority – a branch of the city – owns approximately 1,500 undeveloped acres in the Muscogee Technology Park.
This lands at the infrastructure – access roads, water, sewer, natural gas, electricity and fiber optics in place awaiting leads.
And now there’s a better city-state partnership to get those complicated deals in place.
“When COVID hit it, it froze economic development for a few years,” Schondelmayer said. “And rather than sit back, we decided to use this time to really deepen our relationship at the state level.”
And it seems to have happened.
“We take a partnership approach to economic development,” Young said. “So when we talk to businesses, it’s not just the state at the table. It is also the community, hand in hand.
The governor’s office announcement of the AFB could be the start of something that brings more economic development opportunities — jobs — to Columbus.
“We take a partnership approach to economic development,” Young said. “So when we talk to businesses, it’s not just the state at the table. It is also the community, hand in hand. And Jerald Mitchell and his team at the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce were really able to partner with us, obviously for this opportunity, but hoping for future opportunities, good opportunities for the community.
Construction of the AFB International project will begin early next year. The plant is expected to be operational in 2024.