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Posted: May 21, 2010 12:00 a.m.

General Mills cuts ribbon for new plant

Center to receive product Monday

Photo by Gabriel Khouli/

Ready to roll: The brand-new General Mills distribution center had a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday.

The amplified voices noticeably echoed in the mammoth 1.5 million square-foot distribution center, but the message was clear: General Mills is ready for business.
 
The ceremonial ribbon was cut Wednesday, and the first shipment of General Mills goods will be delivered to the Social Circle plant Monday.
 
“It took us less than six months to close the deal. In less than 11 months we’ve broken ground. They’re ready for operation,” said W. Morris Jordan, chairman of the Development Authority of Walton County. Project Southeast has found its home.
 
Walton County Chairman Kevin Little said county residents should be proud of this deal and the jobs and investment it  will bring, while the entire state should be envious.
 
“We are known across the state of Georgia. If you bring a project here, we’ll get it done for you,” he said.
 
The plant will receive product during the next couple months as it slowly fills up, and the first outbound shipment is scheduled to be delivered the week of June 21. About two-thirds of the plant’s around 150 employees have been hired, and a representative with the  third-party logistics company Exel said the facility will likely be fully staffed and operational by the end of August.
 
General Mills government relations official Lee Anderson said only a couple of the top level management will be employed by General Mills. The rest of the employees will be employed by Exel and Sonoco, a packaging solutions company, who will handle the day-to-day relationships.
 
The Georgia Department of Labor in Monroe is continuing to accept applications on behalf of Exel. Applications are still being accepted for forklift positions. Interested persons should bring a résumé to 226 Alcovy Street, Suite B-5 in Monroe or fax an application to (770) 207-4118. Call the office at (770) 207-4111 for more details.
 
Not only was the distribution center successfully built within the budget and on schedule, but it also became the largest industrial LEED Gold building in the U.S. In order to achieve a gold rating the building had to have several significant environmentally friendly and energy efficient features.
 
Among those features, are reserved parking spaces for carpoolers, retention ponds to hold stormwater that is then used to irrigate all landscaping, a reduced need for air conditioning by having a white roof and all concrete paving that reflect sunlight, low flow plumbing fixtures that reduce water use nearly 50 percent, energy efficient lights, occupant light sensors, high efficient HVAC systems and increased ventilation.
 
In addition, 77 percent of waste materials created during construction were recycled and the plant was built using nearly 40 percent previously recycled construction materials.
Social Circle Mayor Jim Burgess gave a key to his city to Mike Nordstrom, the man who oversees real estate deals for General Mills.
 
“We are a great city and we look forward to the contribution of this great company. We want this company to be happy here. We’ll do whatever we can to help,” Burgess said,
 
Nordstrom thanked the local officials, particularly Nancy Kinsey, executive director of Development Authority of Walton County, who he called a “special jewel.”
 
“(She had) the imagination to identify a farm field for a distribution center,” Nordstrom said. “This building here proves that General Mills made the right choice.”
 
Kevin Schoen, vice president of logistics, said the plant will carry the full line of General Mills dry goods and will serve all the largest customers including Food Lion, Kroger, Publix and Wal-mart. He said this is the first large distribution center General Mills has built in the U.S. in 25 years.
 
Mike Beatty, a commissioner with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, announced that Social Circle also received its opportunity zone designation Wednesday, which he called a big deal for the city.

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