‘Project Sparta’ to bring up to 900 jobs to Milledgeville?

It’s code-named “Project Sparta” and the industrial prospect is slated to bring up to 900 jobs to central Georgia. But what is it?

The Rheem facility in Milledgeville. Source: Milledgeville-Baldwin County Development Authority

A government filing this week by Milledgeville-Baldwin County says officials have been in negotiations “with a large, start-up manufacturing company” to take over a former Rheem Manufacturing facility in an unincorporated part of the county.

Milledgeville, Georgia’s one-time capital city, is the home of Georgia College & State University and sits on the southern end of Lake Sinclair. The city is about 100 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.

The unnamed company has proposed a $27.1 million investment, according to a Development of Regional Impact filing, a document that is intended to alert neighboring governments of large projects, so that they can prepare for potential effects such as traffic and demand for schools and other services.

The project, if it comes to fruition, is scheduled to be completed by June, the document said.

Matt Poyner, executive director of the development authority, said he could not reveal the company’s name or industry because of a non-disclosure agreement. But he said local officials are in deep talks and the filing is a sign of how serious the discussions are.

“We are very close and very hopeful this will be a win for us,” he said.

Rheem, which made household air conditioning units at the site until the plant closed several years ago, formerly employed about 1,600 people at the site, Poyner said. Rheem shifted the jobs to Mexico, and the plant’s closure was a huge loss to the greater Milledgeville area, Poyner said.

The unemployment rate of the Middle Georgia region, which includes Baldwin County, was 6.4 percent in September, which trails the state average of 5.8 percent.