A major horror movie-"The Ring 3"-will start production in Conyers just in time for Halloween and remain based here for at least six months, the Conyers Rockdale Economic Development Council learned on Oct. 14.
CREDC Executive Director Marty Jones also announced early talks for a possible business incubator, focused on tech start-ups, at the former Michelangelo restaurant building.
"The Ring 3" is the latest sequel to the hit 2002 horror film. Paramount Pictures is renting studio space at 2030 East Park Drive recently vacated by another major horror film, "Goosebumps."
"It's a big movie," said Gina Hartsell, CREDC's project manager and movie-industry contact.
The Internet Movie Database estimates the film's budget at $33 million. Jones said that Paramount will pay around $200,000 in rent and will hire locals for various work and supplies.
Meanwhile, Jones is in early talks with city and county officials about the possible business incubator in the 8,000-square-foot Victorian building at Railroad and Elm streets, where an antique store reportedly is likely to move. Property owner Harris Tessler of Atlanta is "willing to partner with us," but will take a good commercial tenant if they come along first, Jones said.
Some type of business incubator-where start-ups can use shared facilities to get a leg up-is a longtime dream for the area. A plan for a large-scale incubator at the former Acuity Brands building on Rockdale Industrial Boulevard fell through in 2011.
Jones told the News that he and Tessler have talked about the incubator idea since last winter-before Tessler bought the Olde Town building. They even traveled to College Park to visit a similar incubator there, he said.
But the idea is still very preliminary and needs more discussion before it could become a solid proposal, Jones said.
In other economic development news:
--The long-awaited reconnection of Old Covington Highway under Route 138 likely will be approved by the SPLOST Oversight Committee on Oct. 27, according to Mike Houchard, a member of both CREDC's board and the committee. He said it will be a "positive vote" that follows required state and federal funding approvals.
- The board gave a general thumbs-up to a final draft of its first-ever package of marketing materials, created by the Conyers-based Shadowood Agency and Imijit.net. The core material is an illustrated brochure of photos and basic information about Rockdale's workforce, infrastructure, quality of life and similar business-oriented topics. It includes a new marketing slogan for the area: "Right Place, Right Time."
- Jones and board member Vince Evans reportedly positively on the first round of meetings in CREDC's new plan to build relationships with brokers of the county's major retail complexes. The idea is to find out whether they have any needs and to offer local government's backing.
"I was a skeptic. I was wrong," said Evans of the talks he joined in. "It was time well spent."
Among the information CREDC already has learned, Jones said, is that the Kroger on Highway 138 plans to eventually expand its store.