The Tift County Development Authority has been fortunate to celebrate many successes over the past several years, further establishing our area’s reputation as a business-friendly community.
In December of 2010, American Textile Company, a leading manufacturer of bedding products based in Pittsburgh, Pa., opened its fourth manufacturing facility in Tifton. Leasing a building from the TCDA, the company began by hiring 50 employees with the plan to add 70 more in the following year. Due to the success of this operation, the company hired more employees than they initially planned and four years later, they opened a second Tifton facility to handle distribution and it succeeded as well. Today, the company has nearly 500 employees in Tift County and in the spring of 2018, the company celebrated the opening of their biggest Tifton facility, a 400,000 square foot plant to handle its increasing distribution needs.
Tifton’s largest private employer is Target Distribution, one of the company’s three distribution centers in Georgia and the only one not located near the Port of Savannah. The 1.5 million square foot facility opened in 1989, making it the first distribution center that the company opened in Georgia, and employs nearly 800 local citizens. Because of Tift County’s premier location with proximity to Florida and the Georgia ports and direct access to Interstate 75, Highway 82 and Highway 319, the Target Distribution Center continues to thrive and provide good jobs with a strong wage for its employees.
Tift County prides itself on its international reputation as the epi-center of agricultural research and productivity in the Southeast. That reputation has been earned over many years, mirroring the growth of Kelley Manufacturing Company which opened in 1966 and has evolved into a leader in providing dependable equipment for progressive farming. Headquartered in Tift County, KMC’s site occupies 28 acres with a total of 193,000 square feet under roof and over 210 employees. KMC offers a wide range of products, employs some of the top engineers and specialists in the manufacturing process. All of their products are manufactured locally and the company has an extensive dealer network throughout the country and in eight other countries.
It’s easy to understand if a small town like Tifton is not the first answer when someone is asked, “where is the best place in Georgia to open a restaurant?” But according to Restaurant Business Online, Tifton ranked first in Georgia and 14th in the country on that list. With criteria including population, per capita income, restaurant sales per capita, sales as a percentage of income, the total number of restaurants and sales per restaurant, Tifton ranked in the national top 20 alongside Las Vegas, Honolulu and Reno. More are planned to open this year so if you’re traveling through, stop in, sit down and find a great place to dine!
Over the last few years, Tifton’s downtown has changed dramatically with new living spaces, restaurants and other retail establishments finding success in the area. Partnered with some cornerstone businesses who have found success downtown for decades, the area has become revitalized and much of that success has come from public/private partnerships as well as leadership and vision from local officials. In the last few years, several locally-owned restaurants, bookstores and retail shops have opened their doors downtown and local developers have renovated some of the district’s historic buildings into modern spacious apartments, giving the area a new energy and vitality that promises more interest in the future.
A decade ago, the Magnolia Industrial Park was in need of new tenants as many of its buildings were empty. Today, it is an entirely different story as the park is full and manufacturers are adding jobs on an annual basis. With no spec buildings to show prospects, the Tift County Development Authority acquired land adjacent to the existing industrial park and began work on constructing a spec building. It was quickly leased by the American Textile Company to be the site of its new distribution center so, in early 2018, the TCDA approved funding to build a new spec building. The Authority is also expected to acquire more acreage in 2018 so that it can continue to market Tift County as THE manufacturing center of South Georgia. Few communities in Georgia can boast of that kind of success but through strong leadership, productive partnerships, fantastic location and access to a transportation network that helps companies move their products, Tifton continues to thrive with greater things to come in the future.