A local steel fabricator is in talks with Dawson County officials about possible tax incentives for an upcoming project.
Karl Baysden, director of sales and marketing with Impulse Manufacturing, said last week that the company has plans to expand manufacturing operations next year, though it hasn't decided whether to enlarge the local plant near Ga. 400 or set up a new operation in Athens or Charlotte, N.C.
The 150,000-square-foot plant sits on nearly 18 acres off G.W. Taffer Road and employs more than 200 workers over three shifts. It produces parts for several small excavator models, including a new Caterpillar production facility in Athens.
"We know ... we're going to run into some capacity issues specifically on the paint line," Baysden said. "By 2015, we're going to hit that capacity. Absolutely, we're going to need to expand that paint line. The question now is, ‘Where do we put it?'"
The $7.5 million proposed expansion calls for an additional 50,000 square feet of space to house a new paint line and more than $5 million in equipment. Officials estimate the expansion would create 75-100 new jobs within 18 months.
"If we chose one of the other two areas, there would be a slight reduction in the work force in Dawson because some of those would move to the new area," said Baysden, noting the rest of the operation likely would stay put.
County Commission Chairman Mike Berg confirmed there have been talks about possible incentives, though he said none of the commissioners have been in direct contact with Impulse representatives.
"We're going to depend on ... the development authority to analyze what Impulse is doing and respond to the commission on the different scenarios," he said. "The board of commissioners would then have the option on what they'd like to do."
Charlie Auvermann, executive director of the Development Authority of Dawson County, said in a statement Monday that Impulse made a formal request for potential tax incentives in November.
"Any tax abatement is strictly in the hands of the commissioners," Auvermann said. "Our role is to provide an unbiased financial and technical review of the request. That review is then passed to the commissioners. The authority does not make a decision in such matters."
The authority, in conjunction with the county, created a general incentives policy in 2007, according to Auvermann.
"Most companies want to have various tax incentives," he said. "The role ... is to evaluate the financial gains from the firm's presence versus the impacts to the county and the citizens when providing services such as fire, sheriff's patrols and the increased costs to schools."
Auvermann noted that while some tax incentives do generate long-term benefit to communities, other Georgia counties have "had trouble when they offered too many incentives."
"Incentives come with obligations," he said. "They are not considered a handout and as such they come with expectations, which are placed into any agreement made by the commissioners."
Working with a group from Georgia Tech, the authority expects to have the review, which would also include impact on the city of Dawsonville and the local school system, complete within a few weeks.
"Any given project may look very good financially from a county government perspective but place a huge burden on a local school system because of the sudden influx of new jobs which brings a sudden enrollment surge," Auvermann said.
"We always review any given project from these other perspectives to try to understand the broader implications from any incentives package."