Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

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April 4, 2012

PDA: Ga. Chopsticks continues production

AMERICUS — Payroll Development Authority (PDA) executive director David Garriga provided an update at Tuesday’s regular meeting on local chopstick manufacturing business Georgia Chopsticks.

Garriga said there were “a lot of rumors going around,” concerning the status of the business. PDA member Mike Donnelly commented that the business is “making product” as he has seen the production activity going on at the plant

“They just shipped 15 million chopsticks the other day,” Garriga said, adding that he has spoke with the principle of the company, David Hughes, who said there are no plans to close the plant as there are many orders to fulfill.

He explained that the company needs more machinery to complete the orders it currently has.

“Right up front (Hughes) has dispelled any notion of a closure right now,” Garriga continued. Concerning the report in the Times-Recorder that Americus Police are investigating a theft complaint from Top Holding Management Group of Overland Park, Kansas, Garriga said that he was told the whole thing is a “misunderstanding.” He (Hughes) said it was an error and this situation has been taken care of, but they’re not going to close.”

According to a police report, a representative of the holding company, Deb Leslie, told Americus Police that Ga. Chopsticks co-owner Jae Lee sent the company a check for $1,341995.46 dated Feb. 29, 2012, but the check bounced due to insufficient funds in the account. Leslie told police Lee was contacted concerning the bounced check and Lee stated his intention to rectify the situation by sending a cashier’s check; however, the check never arrived.

Maj. Richard McCorkle of the Americus Police Department gave an update on the case Wednesday. He said the holding company is still seeking prosecution and the police department has submitted its reports to the District Attorney’s office and is waiting to hear back. McCorkle said the department will provide more information as it becomes available.

On Tuesday Scott Anderson of Pet Care Rx provided the PDA with an update on the progress of the company’s call center, located in Americus. Pet Care Rx has been in business in Americus for six months and currently has 122 employees. Anderson said around 40 of the employs are seasonal as spring and summer is the busiest time of year due to large amounts of medications to combat fleas and tics are being purchased. Anderson said a new class of employees have been trained at South Georgia Technical College and will start soon.

Anderson reported that customer satisfaction is at an “all-time high” and retail sales are up an average of $4 per order compared to sales from the previous call center in Manila, Philippines. He said the Americus call center took 14,000 calls last week. The peak time will be at the end of April when 18,0000 to 19,000 calls will come in.

Sumter County Archway Professional Barbara Grogan provided an update Tuesday. She gave an annual report in which she briefed the PDA on projects Archway is involved in, including the GSW entrance way project which has reached the engineering phase as it has received grant money that will be available sometime in 2012 or next year. In addition, Grogan said progress in continuing on the revamping of Rylander Park and the fountain will be installed this week. Progess continues on housing efforts as well with the writing of an urban redevelopment plan, and Grogan said efforts are being made to take advantage of the growing tourism industry in Sumter County.

Tuesday the Board approved a restructuring of a loan to Southeastern Rail and Locomotive, who has a One Georgia loan through the PDA. Garriga said the company requested the PDA accept $17,000 pay down on its loan with the remaining $50,000 to be paid off in 18 months at a rate of three percent interest. The Board considered the request, approving unanimously to approve the restructuring, stipulating that the interest rate be 4.25 percent. The next meeting of the Americus-Sumter Payroll Development Authority is at 4 p.m. Tuesday May 8.


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