Dawsonville is in the running for an assembly plant that would build a specialized, high performance police car.
Real estate agent Carolyn Cantrell told the Dawsonville City Council on Monday night that Carbon Motors is interested in 200 to 250 acres on Hwy. 183, across from the Elliott Racing Complex.
The proposed plant would produce the Carbon E7, a prototype police cruiser that could go up to 155 mph and feature voice control, night-vision cameras and a license plate recognition system.
The automaker is expected to make a decision by July. Cantrell estimated the plant’s overall economic impact at $3 billion over 10 years. The initial 250 new jobs could grow to as many as 2,000 when the plant reached full capacity.
Numerous factors, including access to major automotive suppliers and Dawsonville’s proximity to Atlanta, attracted Carbon to the site. But the key, Cantrell said, was the recently approved motorsports park on Duck Thurmond Road.
“Wherever they (Carbon Motors) go, they’re going to have to have a test track,” she said.
City council last month approved zoning for a sports car country club, which would include nearly three miles of high performance road course.
Preliminary estimates by the Development Authority of Dawson County indicated the motorsports park would be an economic stimulator for the area, with other like industry following suit.
Dawsonville Mayor Joe Lane Cox said he did not want to pass up the opportunity.
“We need to dig in and push ourselves,” he said. “We’ve let some good opportunities slip by.”
Cantrell facilitated the land deal between motorsports park developer Jeremy Porter and Ernie Elliott. The Elliotts also own the property Cantrell is showing the automaker.
“The only involvement the Elliotts have is they are selling the land,” she said. “This is not an Elliott project.”
Earlier this year, the cities of Braselton and Pooler emerged as the two Georgia finalists for the automotive assembly plant. But Braselton appears to have fallen out of the running, Cantrell said, while Pooler is “having problems.”
“This area is by far a better spot for it,” she said.
Other finalist sites announced by the company include Connersville, Ind., Plymouth, Mich., Charlotte, N.C., and Greenville and Spartanburg, S.C.
Based in Atlanta, Carbon Motors prefers to stay in Georgia, Cantrell said.
Representatives from Carbon Motors are expected in town within the next few weeks to review the proposed site, nearby racing complex and plans for the motorsports park.
William Santana Li, Carbon Motors’ founder and chief executive officer, said in a statement that the company is working to “foster the public-private sector collaboration needed to provide our first responders the equipment they so sorely need.”
Carbon Motors is prepared to invest more than $350 million in developing and producing the Carbon E7, which is slated for production in 2012. The car will be powered by a biodiesel capable engine that uses clean diesel technology.
Dawson County Sheriff’s Lt. Col. Greg Rowan is familiar with the prototype and encouraged that Carbon Motors is considering the local site.
“A few years ago, they asked for suggestions on what officers need in patrol cars,” Rowan said.
For his comments, Rowan won a contest to receive one of the first cars off the assembly line.
“We’re looking forward to getting the car,” he said.
The Downtown Development Authority also appears on board with bringing the automaker to Dawsonville, though at least one member expects some opposition.
Authority member Gordon Pirkle said he thinks the same group that opposed the motorsports park will fight to keep industry out of the rural area.
“But we’ve got to look at it this way,” Pirkle said. “We’ve got to do things to keep our kids here after high school and college. They aren’t going to stay here in Dawson County for retail jobs, and this would bring good, high-paying jobs.
“I can’t believe anyone wouldn’t want that.”
E-mail Michele Hester at firstname.lastname@example.org.