Originally created 03/09/99

Retailer to build new warehouse



A Mississippi-based dollar store chain plans to build a 400,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center in south Richmond County, local officials announced Monday.

The project will create 175 new jobs and $16 million in capital investment, they said.

The warehouse is being developed by Bill's Dollar Stores of Ridgeland, Miss., a privately owned company with 500 discount stores and 4,000 employees.

The facility would serve approximately 100 new stores planned in Georgia, South Carolina, northern Florida and eastern Alabama.

"We look forward to becoming a part of the business community with our new facility located here in Augusta," Bill's Dollar Store chairman and chief executive officer Tim McAlear said in a statement issued by the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce, whose economic development staff helped coordinate the project.

An Illinois-based contractor is expected to begin building next month on the 50-acre site at the southwest corner of Tobacco Road and Doug Barnard Parkway.

The plant would be operational by the first quarter of 2000.

The announcement did not say when the company would begin hiring. When contacted Monday, the company said it would not discuss project specifics until a news conference next Monday in Augusta.

The development is another example of a business boom on the southern end of Richmond County, which holds most of the area's undeveloped property, chamber Chairman Tommy Blanchard said.

"This new facility also portends good news for this area of our community," he said. "It opens up some land for additional development of this type."

On Monday, the Richmond County Planning Commission approved a petition to rezone the property, which sits across the highway from Augusta Regional Airport at Bush Field, from agricultural to light industrial.

The Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism and Georgia Power Co. assisted with site selection, the chamber said.

Bill's Dollar Stores was founded in 1919 and had annual sales of $400 million in 1998. It caters to low- and modest-income families living in mostly rural areas where large retail outlets have no presence.

Locally, the company has stores in Harlem and Grovetown.

The company is a smaller player in dollar store market, behind chain stores such as Dollar General and Family Dollar, which report annual sales of $3.2 billion and $2.3 billion, respectively.

"This new business offers great opportunity for all those who are unemployed or underemployed seeking better opportunities," Mayor Bob Young said in the prepared chamber statement.

Damon Cline covers business for The Augusta Chronicle. He can be reached at (706) 823-3486.