Adidas plans 160-job shoe plant in Cherokee

German shoemaker Adidas plans a robot-powered “Speedfactory” in Cherokee County.

Adidas said Wednesday it will start making shoes at the futuristic plant in 2017. The facility will employ about 160 people, a news release said, and is expected to produce 50,000 shoes next year.

It will be the first such facility in the U.S. and will be similar to an existing Speedfactory in Germany.

The plant will be in the Cherokee 75 Corporate Park along Ga. 92. The complex is within an Opportunity Zone, and is eligible for state jobs tax credits of $3,500 per new job for five years. If Adidas creates 160 jobs, the value of that incentive would be $2.8 million.

Adidas also has been granted a 10-year local property tax abatement, a spokeswoman for the county’s economic development agency said.

For years, many sports apparel companies have made their shoes and other products in Southeast Asia, drawn by cheap labor.

The highly automated Georgia factory and its job functions would presumably be different. The factory will be a 74,000-square-foot facility with its initial product focus on running shoes, the company said.

“For years our industry has been playing by the same rules manufacturing product remotely in Asia,” Eric Liedtke, brand group executive board member, said in a news release.

“As the creator brand that challenges convention and looks to co-create the future with our consumers, we are obsessed with bringing all steps of the creation process home to America.

Liedtke said the new factory “allows us to make product for the consumer, with the consumer, where the consumer lives in real time, unleashing unparalleled creativity and endless opportunities for customization in America.”

“Georgia offers industry leaders such as Adidas the necessary resources to compete worldwide,” Gov. Nathan Deal said in the release. “Our state is emerging as a sports corridor for Southeastern U.S., and our business-friendly climate will be a match for Adidas’ new operation.”