GAINESVILLE — Just how big is the upcoming Kubota expansion?
“It’s unprecedented, in terms of scale, for Hall County,” said Tim Evans, vice president of economic development at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. “This is also the largest earth-moving project in the state right now.”
Projected to bring nearly 600 new jobs to the area, the $100 million project includes expansion of existing operations and construction of a new plant at Gateway Industrial Centre off Hwy. 365 in northern Hall County, which will specialize in making the company’s rough terrain vehicles.
The expansion will bring the number of local employees from about 1,300 to nearly 2,000.
Plans for the expansion of Kubota Manufacturing of America — the corporation’s North American production base for tractors — were previously announced, but Chief Administration Officer Phil Sutton said in a recent interview that an official groundbreaking for the new 500,000 square-foot facility is coming in a matter of weeks: tentatively, Sept. 21.
“Our whole business is growing,” Sutton said. “This project at Gateway, it’s just part of a bigger, company-wide expansion as we continue to grow.”
He said the hiring process has begun to fill new positions.
“They’re hiring not just production workers but maintenance technicians, engineers and design workers for their products here,” Evans said.
Meanwhile, at the existing facilities on Ramsey Road, three miles from the new plant, production will continue as it has for nearly 30 years.
Gateway Industrial Centre is a 518-acre business park under development northeast of White Sulphur Road. Officials have said they hope it will be the catalyst for additional residential and commercial growth along the Hwy. 365 corridor.
Kubota Tractor Corporation and Kubota Manufacturing of America are U.S. subsidiaries of Kubota Corporation, based in Osaka, Japan, and have been pursuing aggressive growth in the United States.
In a recent statement from the corporation, President Hironobu Kubota said the “demand for Kubota products continues to grow in the United States. We estimate that this expansion of our operations will allow us to increase production capacity by 60 percent over the next five years.”
The news release also stated that the corporation’s goal is to “begin mass production in spring of 2017,” at which point the plant will be able to produce 50,000 tractors every year.
“With this expansion,” Evans said, “Kubota is making a very long-term investment in this community.”