Glynn County could use something to break up the job market, which is currently heavily weighted towards the service industry, development officials say.
“We do need more diversification of jobs without question,” said Brunswick & Glynn County Economic Development Authority President Mel Baxter.
A zoning request by Smith & Sons, headquartered in Darien but with branches throughout the South, was recommended for denial by the county’s Mainland Planning Commission Tuesday, possibly pre-empting as many as 50 new manufacturing jobs.
“This is a big company, they have good paying jobs, and we would love to find a place to locate them in Glynn County that fits their needs,” Baxter said.
The seafood processing company, which is a provider for a number of supermarkets including Harris Teeter, planned on building a cold storage facility on a lot just off Ga. Highway 99 between U.S. Highway 17 and U.S. Interstate 95.
A number of residents from two nearby neighborhoods came to the planning commission meeting to oppose the rezoning, citing concerns about the potential noise and safety impact from semi-trucks and fears that the odor of seafood would make its way into the neighborhood.
The zoning request was ultimately denied because a cold storage facility didn’t fit into the county’s vision for the land as recorded in the comprehensive plan and the future land use map.
Walter Smith, who handles the operations of the company, said the company had looked into purchasing land at two industrial parks and at the Georgia Ports Authority Port of Brunswick, as well as a number of places in MacIntosh County, but had run into problems at every one.
Baxter said that while the county has a number of manufacturing jobs already, it “could certainly use more.”
Currently the majority of jobs in the Golden Isles are in the service industry.
“They have an excellent business. It’s been around for years and it’s grown,” he said of Smith & Sons.
Baxter said the company approached the EDA before making its request to the commission, asking about potential locations for a new branch of their business.
“Each time we’ve told them we’d be glad to help them find a location and get jobs in. Jobs are very important,” Baxter said. “If we can get manufacturing jobs, that would be very important.”
While he didn’t have hard numbers, he said 50 jobs would not be an insignificant increase.
“It would be a good increase. People don’t think of us as a manufacturing area, but we really do have a good number in that area when you think of Georgia-Pacific, Pinova, King and Prince (Seafood),” Baxter said.
The EDA is specifically looking for seafood processing as an area of potential growth.
“We’re out there every day looking for new businesses. One of those areas that’d been highlighted by our new strategic plan is the food production area,” Baxter said.
Mainland Planning Commissioners’ denial of the zoning request is a recommendation and not the final word. The Glynn County Commission may decide not to heed that recommendation.
The county commission next meets at 6 p.m. Thursday, in the Old Glynn County Courthouse, 701 G St. in Brunswick. As an agenda has not been released, the rezoning request may be considered at a later date.