CAIRO, Ga. — Governor Brian Kemp visited the new Nivel Parts & Manufacturing facility Friday, touting local economic development and his administration's accomplishments in his first 100 days in office.
The governor congratulated local officials for securing the company's expansion, which will create more than 50 jobs, and dozens of individuals were present at the facility to witness his visit.
Kemp said he ran his gubernatorial campaign last year on a message of strengthening the state's rural communities — something he says Nivel's expansion into Cairo helps accomplish.
"I realize that 50 jobs in Cairo is as good as 500 in Cumming," he said. "It means a lot to communities like this."
The governor thanked Nivel for choosing to invest in southwest Georgia.
"We need people to have opportunities no matter what their zip code is in the state of Georgia," he said.
With his first 100 days in office now behind him, Kemp said he wanted to continue to see investment in rural communities.
The governor said those investments are intended to provide greater opportunities such as better-paying jobs, accessible and affordable health care and a higher quality of life to prevent young individuals from moving away.
"People will not come to your state if you don't have people to work," he said. "It doesn't matter how much incentive you give them, if you don't have the people that can do the jobs."
The governor said that to accomplish this goal he also recently signed a bill to increase rural internet and broadband across the state.
Additionally, Kemp also took part in a listening tour earlier in the day with educators and administrators concerning issues in local school systems.
"We are putting our money where our mouth is and where our values are, and that is in rural Georgia," he said.
Accompanying the governor was first lady Marty Kemp, state Representative Darlene Taylor and state Senator Dean Burke.
While in Cairo, Kemp also signed several bills, three sponsored by Taylor and one sponsored by Burke.
Local leaders in attendance included members of the Grady County Board of Commissioners, the chamber of commerce, the board of education, the Joint Development Authority (JDA) and the City of Cairo, among others.
In April the governor congratulated local officials for securing Nivel's expansion, which will create approximately 65 new jobs — the largest employment expansion in Cairo in more than a decade.
The company has begun moving sewing operations, machinery and equipment and training new employees since the move was announced in Feb. 19.
Nivel, the largest independent provider of golf cart aftermarket parts and accessories in North America, will continue to hire new employees through July 2020.
Golf cart parts and accessories such as tops, windshields, seats, lights and lift kits will be created at the facility once it is fully operational, likely by the end of the year.
"They've got a neat after-market product that I think (is) a great fit for this part of our state," Kemp said. "They're shipping all over the country and we've got all the logistics to do that."
Nivel announced Feb. 19 that they plan to convert the former MadJax distribution center on 2nd Avenue NE in Cairo, which it acquired in 2015, into a manufacturing plant.
Representatives from the company have stated that they plan to eventually bring all of their manufacturing operations in the U.S. to the Cairo facility.
Julian Brown, JDA executive director, said the Nivel executives were the "real rock stars" for their role in creating the new positions.
"Talking about it is great, but when you see them in there working, when you see those lives change, that's what it's about," Brown said. "It happened here in Cairo, and it can keep happening."