By Joel Hall
Clayton County leaders gave a warm welcome to Gulf Coast Pre-Stress, Inc., during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday morning. The company, which designs concrete piles and beams for bridges and other road structures, is expected to bring 60 to 100 new jobs to the area, and generate business in a once-abandoned location.
According to Clayton County Economic Development Director Grant Wainscott, the 23-acre site, once owned by Tindall Concrete Company, had been abandoned for years. He said Gulf Coast Pre-Stress removed more than 25,000 tons of concrete waste from the location, at 7370 Otis Camp Road in Jonesboro, before moving in.
"This is putting an idle piece of land back into play," Wainscott said. "This is now going to be an active piece of land from a tax standpoint. It also sends a message that business is happening here, that the workforce is here. We can demonstrate that to new businesses, and businesses that want to stay, and expand."
Harold Bush, general manager of Gulf Coast Pre-Stress, said the company is based in Pass Christian, Miss., with operations in the cities of Waco and Victoria, Texas. He said the plant in Jonesboro represents its first operation in the state of Georgia.
Bush said Clayton County is a good location for the company because of the metro Atlanta area's growth potential, the county's "ample water supply," and a large pool of skilled laborers.
"The metropolitan Atlanta area is one of the highest growth areas in the country," Bush said. "Also, the previous site was a pre-stress facility. The available labor force here is very encouraging, because that's what you need to run this business. We already have 300 applications. We didn't even advertise."
Bush said Gulf Coast Pre-Stress will be responsible for supplying concrete beams for the soon-to-be-built Maynard H. Jackson, Jr., International Terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, as well as the expansion of the Interstate 75 interchange in Morrow.
Peter Wareing, senior partner for Gulf Coast Pre-Stress, said the company has made a $10 million initial investment in the property. While Wareing said he believes it will be another six weeks before the facility begins operating, he expects the site to produce 4,000 to 5,000 feet of concrete beams per month.
"One of the aspects [of a successful pre-stress facility] is that it is close to where your work is going to be," Wareing said. "These beams can be 100,000 pounds, so they are hard to transport. We believe that the Atlanta area is going to support our business, because we are anticipating that they are going to need to expand their infrastructure as they grow. We feel that this is going to be a very productive site."
Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell said the company will bring value to the area.
"This site was one of the most dismal sites in our county," Bell said. "It was a haven for criminal activity. We were trying to get it cleaned up, but had a hard time because of absentee ownership. This project itself has eliminated that. They've planted trees and have pledged to do more."