H&A Client General Mills wins Georgia ‘Deal of the Year’

By David Clemons
The Walton Tribune

Published September 27, 2009

Walton County and General Mills earned statewide recognition for the work done to bring the food giant’s new distribution center to the area.

The Georgia Economic Developers Association recognized the Development Authority of Walton County for “”outstanding achievement in the location/expansion of business in Georgia.””

General Mills broke ground in June on a 1.6-million-square-foot facility on Hightower Trail in Social Circle, just days after the deal to bring the company to the county was completed.

It’s the largest distribution center for General Mills in the U.S., and it is expected to open in May.

Nancy Kinsey, executive director of the county’s development authority, said city and county officials put forth a unified effort to land General Mills.

“”Our overall success has been largely in part to the leadership at the county level and the Development Authority,”” Kinsey said. “”Good, quality, ethical and honest leadership is a must to win these type projects.

“”We have been fortunate in that our cities have supported our efforts when it comes to utilities. Statewide developers want one economic development professional in the county as their contact. This person must be educated in the economic development arena, have a good rapport with state developers, have a product and know how to sell the product.””

Two weeks ago, Kinsey marked 15 years as director of the Development Authority. In August she celebrated her 34th year in the profession.

“”I am a strong believer in putting your leadership (volunteers) out front and thanking them,”” she said. “”Who cares where the credit goes if you win the project?””

Social Circle has agreed to run utility lines to the General Mills site and is receiving grants to cover the cost of much of the work.

Walton County is making road improvements and paying the cost of a rail line/spur to the site. The Georgia Department of Transportation is assisting with road improvements on Hightower Trail, but the county is doing the majority of the work and agreed to put in the remaining funds needed to get the project.

The Development Authority of Walton County applied for and received a state grant for machinery.

Kevin Little, chairman of the Walton County Board of Commissioners, said the General Mills deal was a good one for the county.

“”General Mills personnel were easy to work with and a unique bond was established with their corporate personnel and our local team,”” Little said.

General Mills is based in Minneapolis and has run a manufacturing facility in Covington for 20 years.

General Mills chose Georgia over other states, then selected Social Circle over other Peach State cities, including Macon.

The facility will employ 112 people on the 132-acre site. General Mills’ investment in the project is estimated at a little more than $43 million.

The new plant will combine facilities in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Orlando, Fla.

Kinsey and the authority’s chairman, Morris Jordan, received the recognition for the Development Authority of Walton County on Sept. 16 in Savannah.