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Food-processing business to expand in Henry

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald.com

A new business coming to Henry County is expected to provide a boost to the local economy.

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue announced on Thursday that De Wafelbakkers, a manufacturer of frozen pancakes, waffles, and French toast, based out of North Little Rock, Ark., will locate a food-processing operation in McDonough.

The operation is expected to result in the creation of 242 jobs, and a $27.5 million investment in the first three years of operation, said officials with the governor's office.

The company will use a 92,000-square-foot, vacant building in Liberty Industrial Park, according to Henry County Development Authority Executive Director Bob White

Dumas Garrett, president and chief executive officer of De Wafelbakkers, said the company chose Henry County because of the building's potential.

"We looked at other facilities that were not designed for frozen foods," said Garrett. "It [the McDonough plant] was built as a frozen food factory. That was advantageous. When you weighed the proximity to the distribution lanes, we felt that the location in Henry County best met our needs."

The Liberty Industrial Park building was previously used as a food-manufacturing facility, which made it particularly attractive when the company was searching for a location to expand, said White. "That was very critical in De Wafelbakker's decision," he added.

Gov. Perdue said he welcomes the frozen-food business to Georgia and believes it will be advantageous for the county. "The food-processing sector in Georgia is a significant force for the state's economy," said Perdue, in a press release. "De Wafelbakkers' decision to locate in Henry County is a great win for Georgia's pro-business environment and for the McDonough community."

Once the new plant is fully moved in and operational, hiring is expected to begin by mid-2011, said Chris Schrimpf, Perdue's press secretary. The company's decision reflects positively on Henry County, he said.

"The company's move into Henry County shows both the strength of the county's business environment and its desirability as a community to live in," said Schrimpf.

Henry County Commission Chairman Elizabeth "B.J." Mathis was happy about the news. "This is exciting news for Henry County, and will provide much-needed job opportunities for our citizens, while, at the same time, bolstering our economy at a time when revenues are down due to depressed real estate values," said Mathis.

"We pride ourselves on being a progressive, business-friendly community, and we certainly look forward to helping De Wafelbakkers to continue to grow and prosper in Henry County," she said.

Henry County Chamber of Commerce officials also extended a hearty welcome to the company. "The Chamber joins Chairman Mathis, and the Development Authority, in welcoming De Wafelbakkers to Henry County," said Chamber of Commerce President Kay Pippin. "Once again, Henry County's convenience to Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and the interstate system, combined with a qualified and ready workforce, make us a great location for this great company."