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Posted: May 14, 2009 11:30 p.m.

General Mills to locate plant in Social Circle

Facility expected to open in 2010

General Mills is once again investing in Georgia and will open up a distribution center east of Social Circle in 2010. The center will create 112 jobs.

Sen. John Douglas (R - Social Circle) said he expected some of those jobs to come from Newton County and even more jobs may be created when the economy recovers. He said companies come to this area because of the pro-business climate.

In addition to the distribution center jobs, the $42 million, 1.5 million square-foot facility will provide a boost to the local construction industry, Social Circle City Manager Doug White said. The facility will be located on the 132-acre plot near the intersection of E. Hightower Trail and Willow Springs Church Road, he said. Nancy Kinsey, the executive director of the Walton County Development Authority, said construction is expected to start July 1.

Rep. Doug Holt (R – Social Circle) said he would have liked the project to be built in Stanton Springs, but Stanton Springs Developer Rees Waite said General Mills chose the Social Circle area because it required railroad access and CSX passed by the Social Circle site.

Grady Lemonds, chairman of the Social Circle Development Authority, said General Mills told city representatives that Social Circle was a cooperative partner.

“They told us we had been the best city they had ever had the opportunity to work in, in regards to working with them,” Lemonds said. “They contacted Solo (Cup Company) on how (Social Circle) worked with them. We had a fair rate of cost and, all in all, when things were added up, it was an ideal place.”

Lemonds said the distribution facility will really benefit the city’s school system once General Mills starts paying school taxes in 2011. Social Circle’s school system is independent of Walton County.

Lemonds said the facility will be open in 2010. The company said it will begin hiring employees in early 2010 through a third-party logistics company. General Mills will provide the upper management employees while the third-party will provide the rest of the workers, General Mills Spokeswoman Heidi Geller said.

General Mills will also work with the Georgia Department of Labor to solicit job applications and with Georgia Quick Start to train employees. When the company begins hiring it will decide what kind of employees it needs and how to recruit and interview those prospective employees.

Covington Manufacturing Plant Manager Mark Bible said the distribution center will carry General Mills’ full range of products. He said the facility is being added to support the growth in the Southeast.

“We’re excited to continue to grow; business has been strong in this area,” Bible said. “We’re building the distribution center because of the popularity and strength of our products.”

Bible said the company has been pleased with the work ethic of its Georgia employees and the Covington plant, which was opened in 1989, will have its 20-year celebration in September.

According to a General Mills press release, once built, the distribution center will be one of the largest buildings in the country to meet LEED certification standards. According to the press release, General Mills operates in more than 100 countries and markets more than 100 consumer brands, including Cheerios, Häagen-Dazs, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury. The company is headquartered in Minneapolis.

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