The Cherokee County Office of Economic Development announced Monday that it has received Georgia’s “Deal of the Year” award for a project that brings the first Adidas factory in the U.S. to the county.

The deal brings 160 new jobs over the next five years, and places the 74,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility in the Cherokee 75 Corporate Park off Highway 92, according to the COED announcement.

The Adidas factory is a “joint venture between Adidas and Oeschler Motion to develop a speedfactory to manufacture sneakers,” the announcement said. “This innovative facility is the only one in the U.S. and has a target production of 50,000 pairs of shoes in 2017.”

The corporate park has been attracting a large amount of corporate and international business attention, and the factory is one of the most exciting occurrences in the park’s existence, COED Chairman Marshall Day said.

“We are proud to receive this designation for one of our most significant projects to date and are thankful to the state and the Georgia Economic Developers Association for this recognition,” he said.

The factory space in the Cherokee 75 Corporate Park leaves room for the company to expand and connects Adidas and all additions to the park with the right contacts at an exciting time, said COED President Misti Martin. The robot-run production line and innovative technologies developing with the speedfactory project align with the county’s future goals and put Cherokee on the map, she said.

“Since they are developing innovative technology that has never been done before, the north Atlanta location on the Cherokee 75 Corporate Corridor gives Adidas access to the right people and the right place. Having a talented workforce of 1.7 million all within 30 miles and immediate access to I-75, (makes it) the perfect location to deliver speed to market,” said Misti Martin, COED President. “Our first Adidas site visit quickly turned into a realization of shared goals, with the speedfactory project not only being a natural fit for Cherokee County’s sustainable outdoor lifestyle of trails, water and greenspace, but also for its technology and mechatronics-based talent pool. The project perfectly complements our dedication to becoming a leader in innovation, focusing on the connection between our students and STEM education with companies like Adidas.”

The factory’s location in Cherokee puts it in a prime location for distribution, networking and expansion, in part because of its proximity to Atlanta, Robert Leimer of Adidas said.

“Having a factory in Georgia helps us to create product much quicker and closer to our U.S. customers than ever before,” Leimer said. “Cherokee County was really attractive for us with its incredible business climate, close proximity to a lot of consumers and to the sports city, Atlanta.”

Representatives of Oechsler, previously told the Tribune that the tax incentives, business-friendly environment and readily available workforce meant that the county won the race for the factory.

“Acworth, Georgia, was ultimately selected as the location that would provide the maximum economic benefit for the first U.S. speedfactory,” the company said. “Alabama, Kentucky, Indianapolis, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, New York and Michigan were a few other areas that were considered.”

The corporate corridor falls near Acworth in unincorporated Cherokee.

Out of the county’s latest deal comes a new branding initiative and opportunity to attract a diverse mix of international and corporate projects, Cherokee County Commission Chair Buzz Ahrens said Tuesday. The repeated recognition of the state and county put Georgia, and more specifically, Cherokee on the map, making it much easier to appeal to new businesses and expansions, he said.

“You have this diversity of business activities (in the corridor), and if I were an international company, I’d really find that a fascinating environment in which to have an operation,” Ahrens said. “It makes the selling job a lot easier, because you can point to things that are real … We’ve got a good playbook, and we play hard.”

In 2017, Georgia was named the No. 1 state to do business in for the fifth year in a row, and Cherokee County has received two Deal of the Year awards in five years.

The Deal of the Year award recognizes outstanding achievement in location or expansion of new business within the state that meet community economic development and community program support goals, according to COED. The award is split into three categories by population, and Cherokee falls into the large category for counties with a population over 100,000.

The 2017 Georgia Deal of the Year was presented by Gov. Nathan Deal at the Georgia Economic Developers Association’s annual awards luncheon in Atlanta Monday.

Cherokee County won the 2013 Georgia Deal of the Year for Inalfa Roof Systems, a global sunroof manufacturer, also located in Southwest Cherokee.

Initial hires for the speedfactory began in the winter of 2016, and employees began moving in to the corporate facility last month, an Oechsler spokesperson said.

The company is encouraging job applications for open positions at the new factory. The company also asks potential applicants to subscribe to its newsletter for updates on jobs that may match their qualifications. For more information, visit bit.ly/2qf4Yer.

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