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Chico's to expand facilities in Barrow

WINDER - Women's specialty retailer Chico's announced Wednesday that it will expand its distribution facilities in Barrow County by making a $15 million investment in a vacant building.

The move should create 189 full-time jobs over the next three years, and the announcement comes just one day after technology giant NCR said it would be moving its headquarters to Gwinnett County and bringing with it 1,250 jobs.

"Georgia's strong business assets continue to make it a compelling location for distribution centers," said Gov. Sonny Perdue in a statement. "Our state's unmatched transportation network, business-friendly environment and ready pool of qualified workers translate to success."

Linda Moore, a spokeswoman for the Barrow Economic Development Council, called the expansion a "win-win" for both Barrow County and Chico's, which operates its stores in 48 states.

"We welcome Chico's third major expansion of its facilities in Barrow County since 2002," Moore said. "I know our residents are grateful in these economic times for the increase in jobs and investment."

Moore said Chico's expansion will come as a result of its purchase of the former Hagemeyer Building on Barrow Industrial Parkway. The 300,000-square-foot building was vacated by Hagemeyer last year when the company decided to expand its presence in Norcross. Moore said because of this, Chico's can locate the new distribution center in a building that needs minimal retrofitting.

Maggie Large, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Economic Development, said through statutory incentives available to any qualifying company, Chico's would get tax credits totaling $6.8 million. These come in various forms through the Georgia Quick Start program, a sales and use tax exemption, job tax credits and a Georgia Port Tax credit. One $500,000 grant, for site expansion and development, will come from the Department of Community Affairs.

Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Jones said the expansion should provide Chico's with enough capacity to meet its business needs through 2016.

"We are fortunate in having the opportunity to purchase this nearby facility that will enable us to expand our current distribution operations," Jones said.

Chico's brands include Chico's, White House, Black Market and Soma Intimates.