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Inside Bulloch Business with DeWayne Grice - Manufacturing key part of Bulloch economy
Grice-H-DeWayne Web
DeWayne Grice

Every year local and state leaders set aside a week to recognize the impact manufacturing has on the Georgia economy.

In Bulloch County, we have six manufacturing facilities: Braswell's, Briggs & Stratton, Brodie Meter, Great Dane Trailers, Loxscreen and Viracon. Combined, these manufacturers directly employ 1,729 people in Bulloch County according to a study done by the Georgia Southern University Bureau of Business Research and Economic Development.

The report goes on to say that manufacturing activities support 2,186 secondary jobs. These jobs are in other industries such as healthcare and social services, entertainment and recreation, food services and others. The average salary for employees working in local manufacturing is $45,820. These companies provide wonderful opportunities and growth potential for people with varying skills and education.

"We are growing a strong, diverse economy in Bulloch County with healthcare and manufacturing leading the way," said Dominique Halaby, director of the Business Innovation Group for Georgia Southern. "When you include GSU into the mix, it proves that we are not just a university town but a growing economic base. It further proves we are a thriving economic hub.This combination creates a nice robust mix of jobs and continues to drive up skill sets and calibers of jobs, further building a smaller eco system which parallels a larger city."

The total impact from manufacturing is estimated in the report to be nearly $676 million annually. An additional $147 million is added to the local Gross Regional Product as a result of local purchases made by manufacturers and their employees. These purchases generate a secondary impact of $138 million in GRP.

"Manufacturing week gives us a chance to recognize a critical part of our economy," said Benji Thompson, CEO for the Development Authority of Bulloch County. "Local consumers don't buy a Great Dane Trailer or architectural glass typically. So, this sector is not as obvious as other industries. Local manufacturers have a huge impact on our tax base, which in effect helps lowers everyone's property tax bill annually. Gateway Industrial Park alone has over 2,000 employees working in various plants. Thanks to these companies, our community has shown that we have stable, world-renowned manufacturers that call Bulloch home."

One of the first companies to locate in Gateway Industrial Park was Viracon, who specializes in architectural glass. Four years ago, Viracon made a significant investment in modernizing and retooling their plant. They are now one of the largest manufacturing employers in Bulloch County.

"Obviously Viracon remains' bullish on Bulloch," said Rick Farmer, Viracon plant manager. "Our $6 million investment in equipment and facility upgrades in 2012 has positioned us to continue to capitalize on the resurgence of growth in construction around the world. Our dedicated workforce of 400 employees enjoys the quality of life this community offers. They join us in continuing to support the community in every way possible. Our production outlook remains favorable and we remain very optimistic for the upcoming fiscal year. Our partnership with Georgia Southern's Engineering Intern Programs has helped us recruit qualified candidates. allowing us to keep skills and depth in our community."

With a new industrial park almost complete at the highly marketable intersection of 301 South and I-16 and creative partnerships with the Bulloch Board of Education, Ogeechee Technical College, East Georgia State University and Georgia Southern University, our community is positioning itself well to capitalize on significant industrial growth. he impact of the harbor deepening and subsequent port expansion at the Port of Savannah alone could be a tremendous windfall for Bulloch County.

If you have a family member or friend working in the manufacturing industry, use this as a reminder to thank them for being a critical part of our diverse economy.

Please email DeWayne at



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