Cherokee Office of Economic Development · Cherokee by Choice.

Canton ‘rock stars’ lauded by state business leaders

September 6, 2013

By: Carolyn Mathews
Cherokee Ledger-News

A Canton-based parts distribution company is being lauded on the state level for being a “rock star” for small businesses in the state.

FactoryMation was recognized recently as one of Georgia’s first “Small Business Rock Stars,” a new joint effort of the Georgia Economic Developers Association (GEDA) and the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD). The program recognizes outstanding, unique and impactful small businesses in the state of Georgia.

The firm is building a new 62,500-square-foot headquarters and distribution facility in The Bluffs at Technology Park. It plans to invest approximately $3.2 million into the facility and $800,000 into equipment, said Misti Martin, president of the Cherokee Office of Economic Development (OED). The expansion is expected to bring around 40 new jobs, bringing the firm’s total headcount to 65 employees.

“These awards recognize the fact that, with 95 percent of Georgia’s businesses employing fewer than 50 people, small business is clearly big business in Georgia,” said GDEcD commissioner Chris Cummiskey. “Georgia ranks as one of the best states in which to start a business, thanks to its diversity, abundance of resources, and entrepreneur-friendly policies.”

“It’s important to honor companies whose best practices help set the state apart as a nurturing environment for small business,” said Mike Pennington, president of GEDA. “This is the first time our two groups have collaborated specifically on small business awareness, and we are very pleased with the response by Georgia’s small business community.”

Companies with up to 50 employees were considered for uniqueness and innovation, as well as for their involvement with their local economic developers and state resource providers. Nominated companies represent fields ranging from information technology and health care to racing and restaurants. Six companies were named winners in the competition, and four companies received honorable mentions.

“We were very happy to receive almost 50 nominations, more than we expected for this first-time effort,” said Mary Ellen McClanahan, director of Entrepreneur & Small Business with GDEcD. “GEDA members and Georgia’s communities took this opportunity to heart, and we are proud that so many responded with such interest.”

The companies who received awards and honorable mentions were recognized last month in Atlanta at a ceremony attended by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

FactoryMation was represented by CEO Russ Sanders, who shared the history of the business, a national distributor of industrial control products. Initially occupying 7,500 square feet in the Airport Industrial Park in 2005, it expanded to occupy 16,000 square feet in the only multi-tenant spec building in The Bluffs, at 156 Bluffs Court.

FactoryMation then grew to 35,000 square feet.

After giving a brief summary of taking his business from his basement to a multi-million dollar enterprise with more than 12,000 offerings within their product line, Sanders said, “We appreciate being nominated and are honored to accept this award.”

Sanders said the firm chose The Bluffs to expand its operation because it enjoys Cherokee’s close proximity to Atlanta without the congestion.

Martin, who is a former GEDA chair, said “FactoryMation is a true small business success story, and we are fortunate to have them in Cherokee County.” Marshall Day, chairman of the OED stated, “Our existing industries are a top priority, and we have been pleased to assist FactoryMation on their growth from a basement business to a multi-million dollar operation.”

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