The Covington City Council approved offering several incentives, including temporary reduced utility rates, to an existing industry that could bring an $18 to $20 million investment and 600 jobs to Newton County residents over the next 10 years.
The existing industry, referred to as Project Dove, is close to making a decision between the city of Covington and another community, said Roger Harrison, vice president of economic development for the Office of Economic Development, housed out of the local chamber.
At a special called meeting Monday, the council unanimously approved offering the industry a 20 percent reduction on electricity rates for two years, which City Manager Steve Horton said would be a savings of about $3,600 to $4,600 a month; a reduction in natural gas rates; waiving building permit fees, which would amount to a discount of $21,552.50; waiving sewer and tap fees; allowing the city manger to negotiate a parking lot lighting lease; and offering a 20 percent discount on storm water fees for two years.
The industry would expand to an existing approximate 220,000 square foot building, the location of which was not identified at the meeting. However, there was some discussion about concerns the prospect had with being near Ga. Highway 142 and whether or not the area would be able to accommodate the extra traffic.
The Georgia Department of Transportation was contacted and agreed to make adjustments to traffic signals if needed, but believed the area would be able to handle the additional traffic.
Because it's an existing industry, the industry would start out with 900 employees on day one, but assuming a 5 to 6 percent attrition rate, the company would turn over about 600 jobs during a 10-year period, Harrison said Tuesday. He said the industry was looking at a "lengthy lease" at around 15 years.
"It's advanced manufacturing, which fits our workforce and the wage is above average for our community," Harrison said on the phone Tuesday. "It's a good project; we would love to have them come here."
He said he was limited to providing any additional information due to the on-going negotiations, but during discussions at the meeting it was said that Covington's stormwater rate was slightly higher than that of Rockdale County but lower than Conyers.
After some discussions about whether or not to allow the stormwater discount of 20 percent over two years, Harrison told the council they would need to make that decision now.
"If you want to make a statement to be aggressive, now is the time to do it because I don't know if we will have the chance to come back to it," Harrison said.
He said the industry will make a decision on where it will expand Nov. 1. The industry looks to begin its operations in the spring.