SYLVANIA — Tuesday’s announcement by ShriVallabh Pittie Group means that a company new to American manufacturing will build a $70 million cotton-yarn factory in Screven County, creating 200-250 jobs.
But the news, announced at a brief meeting of the Screven County Development Authority, also represents a return of sorts. Textiles have a long history in Sylvania, but whereas for decades the industry declined in the area as jobs moved overseas, some textile jobs now are heading back.
Founded in India in 1898, SV Pittie Group started out as a metal brokerage but expanded into real estate and making yarn. It currently exports yarn from its 11 factories in India to countries in Latin America, but the Sylvania factory will be the new supplier for the Latin American markets, SV Pittie Group Chairman Vinod Pittie said.
“We have taken our vision four to five years down the line, and we feel right now we will be the first to take the lead,” Pittie said. “Once people know that we are here, many people would be thinking and I’m sure many people would be investing here.”
The planned 300,000-
square-foot factory will be built on a 60-plus-acre tract provided by the development authority in the Screven County Industrial Park. The site is next to Highway 21, a four-lane corridor to the Port of Savannah.
Studying what Georgia and Screven County had to offer, the company discovered many advantages for basing its production for Latin America here, Pittie said.
“The only disadvantage that we have is the labor cost compared to India and compared to other countries, but I feel with the infrastructure that the U.S. has and the lower power tariff that you have, and closer to the South American countries the freight advantage, that should compensate for the labor, which we are paying more here,” he said. “I am banking on that.”
His company also is banking on an available workforce. Sylvania Yarn Systems Inc., which had operated a carpet yarn factory in Screven County for 40 years, closed at the end of 2009, leaving 150 people out of work.
“We already have a workforce trained for that, which I know was a factor in their decision making,” said Dorie Bacon, the development authority’s executive director.
Construction should start in the next six to seven months, with the factory starting in about two years, Pittie said. The 200-250 jobs will be production jobs, and there also will be management jobs. Officials did not state a pay range.
In Tuesday’s meeting, the seven-member Screven County Development Authority approved a memorandum of understanding with the Pittie Group and an understanding with the state for Georgia Product Development Assistance. This will involve a grant through the Department of Economic Development, but local officials did not release details Tuesday.
The project also will take advantage of Quick Start, Georgia’s program that provides free, customized employee training to new and expanding industries. State and local officials also credited Pittie’s decision in part to the Screven County Industrial Park’s status as a “Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development” site, one of more than 30 around the state. To qualify, Screven County had a 90-acre tract in its industrial park designated “pad-ready” with utilities available and such hurdles as wetlands delineation cleared.
After about 20 years with no completely new industries, Screven County now has landed two in seven months. Omega Piezo Technologies, a company that makes piezoelectric components used in things such as alarm systems and medical devices, announced in April that it would create 20-25 jobs in Screven County in two years.
Chairman Will Boyd of the Screven County Commission traces these coups to a revamping of the development authority with new board members and a new executive director about three years ago.
The authority chairman, Bobby Smith, was part of that new guard.
“We’ve got a real aggressive board, I think. We’ve been tooting our horn a lot in Atlanta and we have one of the best young economic developers in the state in Dorie, and I think that’s helped us a lot,” Smith said. “We’ve just been reaching out. Our county commissioners and our city council have been easy to work with.”
Board members also visited the Georgia Ports Authority to establish better relationships. As a result, one local industry that had used Charleston’s port switched to Savannah’s, Smith said.
“We’re doing everything we can to bring Screven County to the forefront,” he said.
Gov. Nathan Deal was not in Sylvania, but the Governor’s Office released an announcement of its own.
“The decision by ShriVallabh Pittie Group to locate its new facility in Georgia is an example of how our state is quickly becoming the No.1 state for companies to do business,” Deal said. “The company’s decision to build its first U.S. facility in Georgia underscores our attractive infrastructure and diverse talent pool.”