City of Thomasville to buy former Caterpillar building

Published: Jun. 26, 2017 at 12:53 PM EDT
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By: Erin Lisch | WCTV Eyewitness News

June 26, 2017

THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WCTV) – The Thomasville City Council bought the former Caterpillar plant off U.S. 319 last Friday in hopes of bringing in new business.

According to Thomasville’s Payroll Development Authority, who's in charge of renting or selling the building, a food processing company is visiting the city multiple times.

That company is one of several interested in using the property.

The building has sat vacant since November after 200 people lost their jobs when the plant closed.

Frances Washington, who works in Thomasville, said "It's hard for people to feed their families if the jobs are leaving."

The city is hoping that changes, by leasing or selling the abandoned building.

PDA Executive Director Shelley Zorn said, "We don't want someone to buy it for storage or warehousing and produce no jobs. We want to make sure that we're selling it to someone who produces a lot of jobs."

One potential buyer tells PDA they'd put $83 million into the property. When it comes to employment, they’d create 411 jobs in a two-year time span.

"Spend the money here and the community will grow and make more opportunities for people," said Thomasville resident Noel Gonzalez.

Washington added, "that would be wonderful, something that would bring money back into the community."

But some people say they can't get too excited just yet.

Thomasville resident Terrence Williams expressed concern, saying "Those 400 jobs are available for the neighborhood could be expressed but not now."

PDA officials say indirect job creation can be up to 2,000.

"A job is a person and each person is supporting a family so we want to recreate those jobs for those families in this region," said Zorn.

"A person with a job is a happy person a happy neighbor is happy community," added Williams.

Prospects continue to roll in, leaving many people hoping this brings the building and economy back to life.

The next step, according to PDA officials, is to market the building with nationwide consultants, realtors, state project managers and utility project managers .

By: Amy Robinson | WCTV Eyewitness News

June 26, 2017

THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WCTV) -- The Thomasville City Council has approved the purchase of the former Caterpillar plant.

Shelley Zorn, the executive director of the Thomasville Payroll Development Authority (PDA), says the PDA recommended that the city use city economic development funds to purchase the building.

The $3.3 million purchase was approved at a council meeting.

We've learned that a food-processing company is considering Thomasville as a possible location for its new plant, which would ultimately employ more than 400 workers.

Council members who voted in favor of the purchase argue, regardless of whether the company decides to make the Thomasville plant its new home, the property is a valuable investment for the city and could attract other businesses to the area.

Critics argue that if the company does not come to Thomasville, the city would essentially be stuck with the plant, which is in need of renovations.

Zorn says the food-processing company is expected to make a decision by mid-July on it whether or not it will come to Thomasville.