Proposed retail development plans for property at 2620 Eatonton Hwy.
Kelly Products, a leading provider of essential information and automation solutions to the agribusiness industry, has entered into a contract to purchase the property located at 2620 Eatonton Hwy in Madison. Though preliminary at this stage, plans for the site include local food retail and agritourism development.
Development for the Eatonton Highway property will have a phased approach, beginning with a specialty grocery concept store with a café and a farmers market. There will bie an emphasis on unique, high quality and local products. Consumer education will be a key component as the site evolves.
Keith Kelly, Kelly Products’ president and CEO, who has a long background in agribusiness, feels this is a natural progression for Kelly Products’ companies.
“We have been developing agricultural products and software for the past twenty years. During that time we have ventured into agricultural production on our farm in South Georgia and our company garden in Morgan County, and our interest in and support for local food has continued to grow,” said Kelly, adding, “This is no small undertaking, but our company is passionate about this venture and we believe it will be a great asset for local farmers and local and regional consumers.
The Morgan County Board of Commissioners has pledged its support of the proposed plans for the site. “This partnership is a win-win as far as we’re concerned. Business development that advances agriculture and agritourism is a wonderful fit for the resources already prevalent throughout the county,” said board chairman, Andrew Ainslie.
The County is partnering with Kelly Products to construct a farmers market on the property which Kelly Products will operate. Michael Lamar, Morgan County manager, feels this partnership will be a value-add for the larger community.
“Through this type of partnership, everyone benefits – the community, private business and local farmers whose goods will be promoted and sold through the farmers market,” said Lamar.
Other organizations in the community heavily vested in agriculture and maintaining farmland in the county are encouraged by the proposed use for the space. Christine McCauley, executive director, Madison-Morgan County Conservancy, is working with the county on a grant for the farmers market.
“We’re thrilled to see this type of land use in Morgan County and believe the agritourism center will create jobs, increase tourism, and support Morgan County’s agricultural industry,” said McCauley. “Agritourism is a growing industry, as we’ve seen from the popularity of FARMeander, and Morgan County is the perfect place for a development like this, given our proximity to Atlanta, Athens, Augusta, and Macon.”
Kelly Products is predicting a minimum of 25 new jobs created during the first phase of the project. Ongoing growth will allow further agritourism opportunities onsite. Development is slated to begin mid-2015.
“This development not only fills a niche in our economy, but it will create an economic ripple effect in our county and our region,” said Bob Hughes, president, Madison-Morgan Chamber of Commerce. “One of our main goals is to enhance the vitality of our community and businesses such as this are helping us do just that.”
Kelly Products’ overarching goal for this venture is to add value to land in the region by creating an outlet through which local goods can be sold. As a Founder’s Circle member of Georgia Grown, Kelly Products realizes the value in locally grown and produced food.
“Localized production is going to continue to make more sense from an economic standpoint as time goes on. As freight and input costs rise, and issues associated with water scarcity and other environmental concerns become more pressing, we believe that the more communities can do to become more sustainable, the better prepared they will be for the challenges ahead,” said Kelly. “Today, consumers have more information and power. They want to know where their food comes from and what’s in it. A recent study by Cone Communications says that three-quarters of Americans consider sustainability a priority when making food purchasing decisions and 74 percent consider ‘locally produced’ an important factor in their purchasing criteria.”
Marketing & Communications Manager
Kelly Products, Inc.
14481 Lochridge Blvd.
Covington, GA 30014