By Johnny Jackson
More than 150 jobs will be up for grabs in Henry County, over the next three years, according to state and local officials, who announced, Wednesday, that apparel company, Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation, will be relocating, and expanding, its Georgia distribution operation to McDonough.
The move would add at least 150 jobs to the area, which would take the company's total workforce in Georgia up to 300 positions.
"We are extremely pleased to welcome Phillips-Van Heusen as our newest corporate citizen," said Elizabeth "BJ" Mathis, chairman of the Henry County Board of Commissioners.
"The ability to close this deal so quickly was due to a collaborative effort between the Board of Commissioners, the Henry County Development Authority, and the Georgia Department of Economic Development," Mathis said. "This quality industry will provide much-needed jobs to our residents."
Phillips-Van Heusen is scheduled to begin moving this year from its existing facility in Austell, Ga., to the existing 852,000-square-foot Liberty Distribution Building, located in Liberty Industrial Park, just off of Ga. Highway 155 in McDonough.
Mathis said she believes the company's 20-year building lease "with the option to expand their industry, will assure a long and successful relationship with Henry County."
"We're very pleased, always, to be able to take existing space and put jobs in that space," added Heidi Green, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. "We're very pleased to have such a high-profile company coming to Henry County, and using some existing facilities."
Green said the company's new facility will be fully automated and can accommodate an increased workforce, as well as allow for potential growth and expansion of distribution operations in the future.
"Inventory management is very important for this kind of industry," she said. "It's an important part of the supply chain and supply-chain-logistics strength in Georgia. It speaks to the strengths of our logistics that we got it."
Green noted that South Carolina was a competitor in acquiring the Phillips-Van Heusen expansion. She said the expansion is also representative of economic growth in Georgia. "Seeing distribution centers come on line is a very important benchmark in terms of our recovery economically," added Green. "I think this is a sign that things are turning around, and the economy is improving."
Green acknowledged that Phillips-Van Heusen's heavy use of seaports in distribution operations were a good fit for transporting higher volumes of product through the Port of Savannah.
"Distribution operations like Phillips-Van Heusen's thrive in Georgia, due in large part to our state's advanced logistics infrastructure that efficiently connects Georgia businesses to markets around the world," said Gov. Sonny Perdue, in a written statement. "I am excited about Phillips-Van Heusen's decision to expand in Georgia, and create a positive impact for the state and local economy."
Charles Baker, director of engineering for Phillips-Van Heusen, led site selection and lease negotiations, partnering with Cushman & Wakefield brokerage professionals, Matthew Astrachan, Mitchell Konsker and Steven Bauer, of the firm's New York office, and Ray Stache, of the firm's Atlanta office.
Officials said Marty Reid, with Duff and Phelps LLC, assisted on behalf of Phillips-Van Heusen with Project Manager Andrew Neumann, from the Georgia Department of Economic Development, to secure the deal. They noted that the pension fund, AEW Capital Management LP, owns the property.
"We look forward to establishing this new facility in McDonough, which will allow us to continue to meet the needs of our growing and expanded retail and wholesale businesses," said Kevin Urban, Phillips-Van Heusen's executive vice president of logistics services. "This automated facility will enhance our ability to ship our products to our stores and retail customers in a timely and cost-effective manner, while leveraging the expertise of our existing workforce."
Phillips-Van Heusen plans to instruct its new employees through collaboration with Georgia's Quick Start training program, which offers strategic and industry-specific workforce training solutions free of charge to expanding and existing companies creating new jobs in Georgia.
Construction work on the building in the Liberty Industrial Park in McDonough will get underway immediately and will continue to be phased in over the next year, according to Bob White, executive director of the Henry County Development Authority.
White said the company hopes to be shipping product from the facility in early 2011. He added that the new site should be fully operational by 2013.
"We look forward to helping them grow even larger in the future," White said. "The company will be working through the Georgia Department of Labor, and will be announcing hiring details shortly."