Site of a proposed inland port near Crandall, Ga. The proposed port has some worried about the increased traffic, noise and loss of scenic views. The port would handle an estimated 50,00 containers per year. BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

Chinese flooring maker to create 315 jobs in Murray County

A Chinese flooring manufacturer will open a plant in Murray County, creating 315 jobs in northwest Georgia, a region that’s struggled with high unemployment rates.

Huali Floors will invest $27 million to build a manufacturing facility and its U.S. headquarters near Chatsworth, according to Gov. Brian Kemp’s office.

Huali will renovate a 400,000 square-foot facility formerly occupied by Mattex, which made carpet backing. Construction is expected to start in the fourth quarter, a state spokeswoman said. The company will make stone-plastic composite flooring at the plant.

The facility will be located near the Appalachian Regional Port, a rail and truck depot designed to improve connections with the Savannah ports and trigger economic development. Georgia exported $485 million of floor covering products last year.

“It speaks volumes that Huali Floors sees the benefit in the Port of Savannah and the connection to the Appalachian Regional Port,” Wesley Barrell, the Georgia Ports Authority’s regional manager of strategic operations, said in a news release.

Chatsworth is located 15 miles east of Dalton, where the carpet industry is concentrated. The region has recently had higher unemployment rates than other parts of Georgia, though signs of a resurgence of the flooring industry had appeared before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, with business expansions in several types of floor coverings.

Dalton-based Shaw Industries, the world’s largest floor-coverings maker, has helped spur a renewed interest in carpet over hardwood flooring with a new, waterproof carpet product called LifeGuard.

Mannington Mills said in February it would invest $22 million to expand its Calhoun plant that makes luxury vinyl tile, creating 286 jobs. It was the company’s third announced expansion in Calhoun in the past two years.

However, Shaw has cut back in other areas. Shaw in February closed a Dalton facility that made traditional residential carpet, cutting 275 jobs, and shifted capacity to hardwood and tile flooring.

The coronavirus pandemic has hammered carpet sales. Mohawk Industries, based in Calhoun, said this month that first-quarter sales dropped 6% on a yearly basis on lower residential remodeling volume. Mohawk furloughed and laid off employees to compensate.

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