County turns spec building lease over to CalStar

July 3, 2013 9:10:00 PM

Nathan Gregory - [email protected]


Lowndes County Supervisors unanimously agreed Monday to a revised memorandum of understanding and lease agreement with sustainable building material manufacturing company CalStar specifying penalties the company would have to pay in the event it does not provide at least 58 jobs at its Columbus plant once its fully operational. 


The county also formally purchased the 23.4-acre project site and 100,000-square-foot building shell from Agracel and formalized a lease agreement with CalStar. 


CalStar officials subsequently announced Tuesday in a Golden Triangle Development Link press release that the company would locate in Columbus and create 17 jobs initially when it becomes operational during the first quarter of 2014. That number is set to increase to 58 over three years, the announcement stated. The company will build out the shell into a functioning facility over the course of this summer before becoming fully operational, investing a total of $8 million. 


Golden Triangle Planning and Development District project analyst George Crawford told supervisors the number of jobs short of the promised amount that are not produced multiplied by the average cost per job would have to be paid back to Lowndes County. Rounded off, that number is about $21,552 per job, Crawford said. 


Supervisors initially agreed in April to authorize documents leasing the site to the company to produce masonry products including bricks, pavers and cast stone. 


The company's products include up to 37 percent recycled content and requires up to 81 percent less energy to manufacture while emitting up to 84 percent less carbon dioxide to produce the materials, the release said. 


"CalStar is undergoing rapid, exciting changes as we continue to expand our product offerings and grow our manufacturing footprint," CalStar CEO Joel Rood said in the release. "Columbus is an ideal setting for the new plant, with a central location in the South, an able labor force and a strong government and business leadership. We're thrilled to call Columbus our new second home." 


The company was founded in Silicon Valley in California and is headquartered in Wisconsin. 


Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.