International shipping company to create hundreds of jobs in Gwinnett

An international shipping company will expand its Gwinnett County operations, creating more than 350 new jobs, officials announced Tuesday.

Officials from the city of Peachtree Corners broke the news regarding Hapag-Lloyd’s consolidation and expansion prior  to a press conference held by Gov. Nathan Deal, Gwinnett Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash and others at the state Capitol.

German-based Hapag-Lloyd merged with United Arab Shipping Company in 2017 and is consolidating operations at its offices on Spalding Drive in Peachtree Corners, officials said.  According to the news release from Peachtree Corners, the company plans to invest $5.5 million over the next two years and create 363 new jobs.

The company, which bills itself as the fifth-largest shipping company in the world, already employs 178 people in Peachtree Corners.

“I think it’s the greatest compliment when an existing business chooses to expand,” Nash said.

Announcements such as Tuesday's deal in Gwinnett and last week's announcement of the relocation of Fortune 500 company Norfolk Southern have been salves of sorts to business boosters who were crestfallen at the loss of Amazon's second headquarters project known as HQ2.

Georgia aggressively courted Amazon and its promised 50,000 jobs.

Thursday’s announcement brings the state’s economic development department to 5,000 new jobs announced since mid-November when Amazon announced it had chosen to bypass cities including Atlanta and split its ballyhooed HQ2 project between New York and the Washington, D.C., area.

Amazon also picked Nashville for a large operations center.

That 5,000-job figure is equal to about what Amazon expects to add per year combined in New York and Northern Virginia over the next decade.

Though Amazon went elsewhere, state recruiters said Georgia finished the year in robust fashion.

Deal agreed.

“The good news is, since the announcement was made earlier this year that [Amazon] was not coming to Georgia, since that time, we have had over 5,000 new jobs come our way without Amazon being in that mix,” he said at Tuesday morning’s press conference.

“I hasten to add though, we already had about 4,000 Amazon employees in our state, even prior to that announcement. And I have every reason to believe that in the not-too-distant future, perhaps the next governor will be making more announcements with regard to their presence in our state.”

The final part of that statement may or may not have been an allusion to a code-named project pitched along Gwinnett’s border with DeKalb County.

The so-called “Project Rocket” would involve 2.5 million square feet of warehouse and distribution space built on about 78 acres near Stone Mountain. The project, which would create 1,000 jobs or more, has been tied to speculation regarding a new Amazon fulfillment center.

Gwinnett County has approved the necessary special use permits for the project, but DeKalb denied a request related to an additional driveway for the facility on that side of the county line.

An attorney for the project said at the time, however, that the denial was unlikely to derail the entire project.

Transit’s role

Gwinnett has been dealt a few blows in its own right in recent years, with businesses like technology giant NCR and paper company WestRock moving all or parts of their operations out of the suburban county and into areas closer to mass transit.

But Gwinnett is set to have a public referendum in March on joining MARTA and greatly expanding its transit services — and the mere prospect of that referendum succeeding appears to already be paying dividends.

Uffe Ostergaard, the president of Hapag-Lloyd's North America region, said Tuesday that the potential for more transit options was “something that really helped” with the decision to expand in Peachtree Corners.

“It’s an endorsement from our side,” he said.

Staff writer Scott Trubey contributed to this article.