The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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January 23, 2014

Ollie's discount chain expanding

COMMERCE, Ga. — A Pennsylvania-based outlet chain is planning a distribution and retail expansion in Georgia and throughout the Southeast, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced Wednesday.  

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, which has a location at 1513 Scalp Ave. in Johnstown, is planning to invest $14.56 million to open a distribution center in Commerce, an area of Jackson County about 20 miles north of Athens, Deal said in a news release. Ollie’s Bargain Outlet was founded in 1982, and currently operates more than 150 stores in 14 states. The chain specializes in closeout, excess inventory and salvage merchandise, state officials said.

The company plans to create 175 new jobs at the distribution center within five years and is planning to open between 30 and 40 stores in Georgia as part of its Southeastern growth plan. The stores are expected to open within the next four years, Deal said.

“We have signed leases to enter the state of Georgia and Alabama this year,” company CEO Mark Butler told The Associated Press, adding that Ollie’s plans to open between 20 and 25 stores in Alabama within the next two to four years.

“Once we open our new distribution center that, of course, opens up the entire Southeast corridor of the United States for us,” Butler said. He added that access to infrastructure that would help move goods throughout the region factored into the company’s decision to open the facility in Georgia. The distribution center is slated to open near the meeting of Interstate 85 and Georgia Highway 98.

The company also qualifies for job tax credits, sales and use tax exemption on certain equipment and will receive Quick Start workforce training, Georgia Department of Economic Development spokeswoman Victoria Borges said in an email. Borges added that the company could also qualify for a port tax credit if the volume of goods being shipped through the Georgia Ports Authority qualifies.

Jackson County Commission Chairman Tom Crow said in a statement that he’s excited the company has chosen to expand in Commerce, and said the distribution center will be a “great addition to our business community.”

The 962,000-square-foot distribution facility in Commerce will serve stores planned to open in Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Tennessee. Each store is expected to employ between 20 and 30 workers and it’s unclear how many stores the company will open in Florida, Butler said.


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