An announcement by Gov. Nathan Deal Friday morning means big business for Banks County.
Diana Food, a global provider of natural ingredients to the food and beverage industry, will invest $50 million to construct a 90,000-square-foot food processing, manufacturing, and research and development facility in the Banks Crossing Business Park.
"Diana Food’s decision to establish a presence in Banks County is a testament to Georgia’s top-ranked business climate," Deal said. "Georgia offers the transportation network required for growing companies and a workforce second to none. I am confident this strategic Banks County location will provide significant benefits for Diana Food as the company continues its growth in the Southeast."
Diana Food manufactures a wide range of clean ingredients with a guarantee of product quality, traceability and food safety. The company has more than 1,000 employees, and nine production plants, 11 sales offices and seven research and development facilities. Diana Food is part of the Symrise Group, a manufacturer of food ingredients, flavoring and fragrances.
“Banks County, Georgia is the best partner for our new manufacturing plant and research and development facility in North America," said Yannick Riou, president of Diana Food, in a statement. "Setting up a new facility in the U.S. is a key milestone in our company development allowing us to stay always closer to our customers, access to a high quality of local and sustainable sourcing while committing in a long-term perspective to the regional economy."
The planned facility will consist of office, manufacturing and warehouse space on nearly 40 acres. The facility will be predominantly dedicated to meat processing.
"We've been competing for Diana Food against more than 25 communities in the U.S. for a year and a half," said Scott Ledford, Development Authority of Banks County chairman, in a statement. "Diana Food brings high-paying jobs for our people."
"While we've hit some singles and doubles in economic development, this is Banks County's first grand slam ever," said Banks County Commission Chairman Jimmy Hooper. "Creating jobs has become an expected duty of local government. We know that Diana Food is committed to outstanding corporate citizenship as it becomes a major employer in the community."
Speaking by telephone Friday, Hooper credited the work of the county's economic development arms.
"Most of this hard work has been done by [Economic Development Director] Brad Day and the development authority," Hooper said. "It all goes back to years ago when they took the opportunity to buy that property down there and make an industrial park."
Hooper said the county has been working for an extended time on finding tenants who fit into the 109-acre industrial/business park.
"We've been looking I know for four years trying to make the spot available, appealing and attractive to industry and commerce," Hooper said.
While the initial building size announced is roughly 90,000 square feet, there is room for future growth.
"It's going to be built for expansion if they need to expand," Hooper said. "The product they're producing has many applications, not only in food but in other products. It's supposed to be not bad on the environment, good for our community, and this is the first industry that's going into an industrial park. Our hope is once we get the first one in, the second one will come a little easier."
Also in the works in the area are the expansion of Eisenhower Drive, where Cracker Barrel and other businesses are located, and improvements to the Faulkner Drive intersection with U.S. 441.
"The future looks bright for Banks Crossing," Hooper said.