GP upgrades could be boost for city

Published 2:00 am Saturday, August 17, 2013

Just the thought of an additional 2,000 people in the community has given a new glimpse at a favorable economic future for leaders in the Brewton area.
On the heels of an announcement that plans are in the works to bring a more than $340 million dollar project to the area at the local Georgia-Pacific mill, leaders are eyeing what might be possible for the community — short- and long-term.
Sandy English, a real estate broker in Brewton, said the impact on the housing market could be signficiant.
“This will have an impact on the real estate market and a great commercial impact on our community,” English said. “Hopefully, this would bring an influx of buyers to the area.”
Brewton City Clerk John Angel said the impact could also be significant since there will be as many as 2,000 more people making purchases in the area.
“When you look at the numbers, that 2,000 people is about 3.6 percent of our current population,” Angel said. “That would probably translate to about a 2 percent increase in the purchases of goods and services in this community. That would be a great boost to this economy.”
Brewton Mayor Yank Lovelace also said the increase in employment opportunities in the community could put the city in line for opportunities in other areas.
“I think it’s a real game changer for our area,” Lovelace said.
Although the jobs are temporary, Lovelace said the city could qualify for grants associated with new employment.
“We’ll be meeting with consultants to see if we can leverage this,” Lovelace said. “They are not permanent jobs, but they are jobs that will help maintain the current jobs at the plant.”
Although the announcement isn’t yet official, Angel said the GP plans could make a long-term impact on the community.
“If the construction companies come in and hire locally, that just pumps more into our economy,” Angels said. “By keeping those payroll dollars here, we could see even more of an impact on the economy. When you see purchases go up at retailers like food and gas, that’s an increase in the city’s revenue.”
One thing that won’t change for the city is the gas services it already provides to the Brewton mill location.
Angel said GP currently has a contract with the City of Brewton for gas services and the new project would not affect that.
“Gas is not in jeopardy,” Angel said.
English said the possibilities of seeing the community grow — even for just a short time — is exciting for everyone in the area.
“I’m really excited that Georgia-Pacific is taking this kind of interest in our community by looking at this expansion,” English said. “We’re thankful for Georgia-Pacific and all they do for this community in everything they do.”
English said availabilities are there, but there is room for growth before any new workers make it to the area.
“We have a little time to work toward having what is needed here,” English said. “It’s a very exciting opportunity.”
Company officials said this week that the expansion project at the GP mill is competing with others in the company and a decision will be made soon.