ROME, GA-This northwest Georgia city of 35,000 permanent residents has landed a big fish. Suzuki Motor Corp. of Hamamatsu, Japan will build a $40-million all-terrain vehicle manufacturing plant here. The facility will go up on a 35-acre tract in the Berry Corporate Center, 70 miles northwest of Downtown Atlanta.

Construction is scheduled to begin early in 2001 and the plant slated for full operation by spring 2002. Local real estate brokers anticipate the plant will spur new multifamily and retail development in the area.

Suzuki will hire about 150 workers initially and will add another 150 by 2004. Employees will make approximately $9 per hour, according to the Rome Chamber of Commerce.

Suzuki has other US operations, but the Rome facility will be the company’s first manufacturing plant of its own brand. The operation is expected to produce approximately 40,000 ATVs each year. The Japanese company will form the American Suzuki Manufacturing Co., which will own 80% of the plant. Suzuki Motor Corp. will own the remaining 20%.

The Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce, the Georgia Dept. of Industry and Trade, local colleges, Floyd County and community groups all worked to bring the manufacturing facility to Rome. The city is giving property tax abatement incentives of about $4 million over a 10-year period.

Several other factors helped lure Suzuki to Rome: the area’s labor force, the presence of a local technical school and the site’s proximity to other ATV manufacturers, namely Honda in Asheville, NC and Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corp. in Newnan, GA.

Suzuki will replace some jobs lost in the continued shrinking of the textile industry. In much of Georgia and the Southeast, once a bastion of the textile industry, textile mills are closing, moving offshore or scaling back. In late November, a major textile employer in Floyd County, Galey & Lord, laid off more than 600 workers.

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