Business park planned for Jackson County off I-85

LAWRENCEVILLE - Jackson County's industrial market continues to boom.

In an announcement Wednesday, Atlanta-based Cousins Properties Inc. said it has purchased 304 acres at Interstate 85 and U.S. Highway 129. The new Jefferson Mill Business Park will contain seven industrial buildings totaling 3.2 million square feet, along with some retail sites along U.S. Highway 129.

In recent years, more companies have launched warehouse and manufacturing operations in Jackson County, including Caterpillar and Hitachi Power Tools. The area has also attracted major industrial real estate developers, including Patillo Construction.

Adding Cousins - who carries a strong brand name nationally - brings the county prestige, said Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Pepe Cummings.

"It puts us on the map," Cummings said. "We were already known by the local folks, but now anyone in the U.S. that wants to develop industrial property in the Southeast can look at what Cousins is planning here."

The new project enables Cousins to continue expanding into thriving metro Atlanta markets, said Forrest Robinson, president of the company's industrial division.

Robinson also said Gwinnett is running out of tracts large enough for a project like Jefferson Mill, which is geared to house regional distribution centers and warehouses. It's expected to help Jackson continue building an employment base that expanded by 1,200 jobs last year.

Jefferson Mill is the second major project for Cousins Properties and Weeks Properties, which became industrial development partners in 2004. The partnership already launched the 182-acre King Mill Distribution Park in Henry County.