Business: As first half of 2020 ends, some big minuses but also hundreds of millions of dollars in new investment across Northwest Georgia despite the pandemic.

Business: As first half of 2020 ends, some big minuses but also hundreds of millions of dollars in new investment across Northwest Georgia despite the pandemic.

 

The front entrance to JCPenney at Mount Berry Mall on Saturday. Hometown photo.

 

As we close the first half of 2020, is has been a rough one on retail. It started with the closing of Pier 1 at Riverbend Center and now the second major anchor at Mount Berry Mall is closing, JC Penney. We’ve seen a handful of smaller changes throughout the regional as well with the loss of Jandy’s Frozen Yogurt and several Broad Street shops.

Layoffs include those at Vista Metals in Adairsville (120 jobs), Trinity Industries (138 jobs) and an auto auction company in Cartersville (65 jobs) as well as Kindred Specialty Hospital’s exit from Rome (74 jobs). We watched temporary shutdowns from major employers, including Toyo Tire and from the carpet industry — some because of demand issues, others citing COVID-19 clean-ups.

We’ve seen other jobs vanish as well. Overall, 13,828 Northwest Georgians were unemployed in May but that’s down a third from more than 20,800 in April of this year.

The plus side: 

Even amid the pandemic and record unemployment because of it, economic development has not slowed down. That is underscored by major projects such as those announced in Bartow and Gordon counties last week that will bring 540 new jobs and $120 million in new investment to the region. That follows news of a $30 million logistics center coming to Adairsville. And there’s more below as the I-75 corridor remains red hot.

Existing industry remains a powerhouse in Rome/Floyd County: Kerry Group announced a $125 million expansion in Rome/Floyd County; look for 100 more jobs to the area.

A quick recap of some other major activity shows:

East Bend from May of this year.
  • Construction on East Bend, the retail and restaurant center rising on the former Kmart site in Rome, isn’t slowing down. Look for two restaurants to open soon: Panda Express and Chipotle. Other stores have an October opening target date.
  • Four hotels remain under construction in Bartow and Gordon counties, all due to open later this year.
  • Ball Corp.’s aluminum cup expansion is quickly rising in Shannon and is due online later this year.
  • Coosa Valley Credit Union’s new main office is nearing completion.
  • Off the Bypass, The Spires at Berry College has welcomed its first guests. Estimated value: $135 million.
  • On campus, work is beginning on a $15.7 million animal science building at Berry College.
  • Harbor Freight Tools is adding a second Northwest Georgia location; this one is rising quickly in Cartersville.
  • Anheuser-Busch opened the year by announcing plans to expand operations at its facility in Cartersville,  generating an $85 million investment and 12 new jobs.
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