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Impact of new plant felt here
Local manufacturer certified as supplier
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According to officials, a local steel fabrication supplier has recently been approved to provide parts to a massive Caterpillar assembly plant being built near Athens.

The news followed an announcement that the plant will focus on suppliers in a 50-mile radius that includes Dawson County.

Impulse Manufacturing, which was founded in 1982 in Mississippi, employs nearly 200 people at a 150,000 square foot facility in Dawson.

While the company had previously been qualified suppliers for Caterpillar, president Ronald Baysden said Monday the re-approval for the new plant could help boost business.

"We are talking millions of dollars in revenue here, which would cascade down to more people being hired," he said.

According to Charlie Auvermann, executive director of the Dawson County Development Authority, a second local company, World Wide Manufacturing, has been pre-qualified to provide parts and equipment for the plant.

Officials with World Wide Manufacturing could not be reached for comment.

During a press conference Friday, Auvermann described the announcement as extremely promising for the local economy and one that could have a significant financial impact.

"The Caterpillar facility has a wide-reaching influence for many counties in north Georgia, including Dawson County," Auvermann said. "Being included in the supplier ring is very important for the county."

The authority has worked for weeks with the state to place potential suppliers on the list for pre-qualification consideration.

The new Caterpillar plant, which straddles Oconee and Clarke counties, plans to produce two types of construction and grading equipment, including excavators and bulldozers.

According to preliminary estimates, the plant will total nearly a million square feet and offer 1,400 full-time jobs.

Perhaps the most significant news for Dawson County is that the suppliers serving the plant's needs could see gains in employment and business, Auvermann said.

As many as 40 regional independent businesses could be qualified to supply it, which could lead to an additional 2,800 indirect full-time jobs, according an authority press release.

"The multiplier effect of such a huge operation will be significant," Auvermann said. "The supply list goes on for pages."

Baysden said Impulse Manufacturing has been granted two parts to supply once the new plant opens.

"Within the first couple years it would be a 10-15 percent increase in employment and revenue for us," he said.

Also, two sites in Dawson County are being considered to house possible new supply firms.

Since the 50-mile radius was announced on June 19, Dawson County has had a new appeal to local and foreign companies, Auvermann said.

Japan-based supply firms could open operations in north Georgia with the purpose of supplying parts, according to Gretchen Corbin, deputy commissioner for global commerce with the Georgia State Department of Economic Development.

And while Caterpillar plant's first units are not scheduled to roll off the line until 2018, Auvermann noted the plant's economic impact on the region is being felt much earlier.