The Americus Times-Recorder
May 25, 2011
AMERICUS — On Tuesday the Americus-Sumter County Payroll Development Authority (PDA) made a formal announcement that Georgia Chopsticks, LLC will open a production facility in Americus. The building being leased from the PDA is located at 102 Brady Road.
PDA executive director, David Garriga, speaking before a room full of dignitaries and representatives from community organizations, told the story of how the chopstick manufacturer came to be in Americus. Garriga said company President, Jae Lee, found a potential market in procuring fresh logs for export to China, which lacks natural resources in proportion to its population of 1.3 billion people. Garriga explained that Lee’s initial plan did not work out due to metric conversions and specifications, but he later determined that poplar and sweet gum trees native to this region of Georgia are ideal for producing wooden chopsticks. Hence, Lee started his own Georgia Chopsticks, LLC, which began operations Cochran in November 2010, and took off quickly, causing Lee to search for a larger facility that would accommodate more equipment to meet the demand for his product.
Garriga credited the PDA’s board of directors, Georgia Power and South Georgia Technical College (SGTC) as being instrumental in accommodating the manufacturer and helping with a smooth transition. The Sumter County government and Americus-Sumter County Chamber of Commerce were recognized for their efforts as well.
Garriga commended the City of Americus, which he said worked closely with the PDA on the project. Mayor Barry Blount was present at the Rees Park Economic Development Center for the announcement and welcomed Lee and his colleagues to the “best city in the state of Georgia.” Blount wished the company success and expressed his hope that many residents of Americus and Sumter County make up the workforce at Georgia Chopsticks.
PDA Chairman Paul Hall briefly addressed the Lee and his collaborators.
“It’s a great day to be able to come together and hear some good news,” Hall said. “I know why people put their businesses where they do, and it’s because of bottom line potential,” he added.
Vice President for economic development at SGTC, Wally Summers, told the group that the technical college is doing its part to make sure the company has the trained workforce it needs by providing forklift training and certification for Georgia Chopsticks employees.
According to a press release Tuesday afternoon, Georgia Chopsticks is doing business with local companies when possible in an effort to help the local economy. Production has begun this month and when full production is reached the company could employ more than 150 people.
Following the announcement, a reception was held at the economic development center with refreshments courtesy of Georgia Chopsticks. A tour of the new facility and ribbon cutting were scheduled for later in the afternoon.