Valdosta - 2007 was a record year for manufacturers in Valdosta and Lowndes County.
"In job creation, over 80 million dollars of new industrial investment, over 700,000 square feet of new industrial products," says Brad Lofton of the Valdosta-Lowndes Industrial Authority.
750 manufacturing jobs were created thanks to new industries moving in and existing industries growing.
"100 new jobs at Steeda, 160 at Martin's Pastry, a very large increase at Bathcraft and Jacuzzi, Lowe's distribution center expanded, SAFT had a large expansion," Lofton says.
SAFT, a specialized battery manufacturer, contributed with 80 new jobs and grew by 30%.
And they say the outlook for 2008 is even better. "We are looking to add additional jobs and introduce a number of new products," says Vice President of Manufacturing Peter Denoncourt. "We are expecting growth in all of our markets."
Regal Marine in Valdosta is another company that's expecting a big year. The boating manufacturer expanded last year, creating 50 new jobs and picking up 13 new dealers.
They say although they can't announce anything yet, they have big plans for the new year. "Between the new dealers and new models we're bringing in, we're doing good. In fact, we've hired 30 people since October first. We expect 2008 to be best year ever," says Greg Justice, Director of Manufacturing at Regal.
It's a trend the Industrial Authority hopes to see as well and are currently working with a wide range of manufacturers to make that happen. "The range of products will be coming not only from the US but all over the world and we hope to continue growing it," Lofton says.
They say Valdosta set the pace for the state in 2007 and with their prospect activity, expect to do the same for the new year.