Henry County wants to add film industry, data centers to portfolio

For more than a decade, Henry County has served as one of metro Atlanta’s distribution and manufacturing hubs. Now, it’s ready to branch out to attract a wider variety of businesses to the south metro community.

In his economic development update to Henry County Commissioners on Tuesday, Leonard Sledge said he wants to go after film projects, data centers and office parks to diversify Henry's employment portfolio.

“The film and entertainment industry has been growing all around us,” said Sledge, the recently appointed executive director of Henry’s Development Authority. “In addition to that, there has been a boom in data center activity in the Atlanta metro area.

"But short of the very large announcement that was made a couple of weeks ago, data center activity south of the I-20 area has not been as robust as other areas," he said, referring to the $750 million data center that Facebook is building in Newton County.

Sledge’s remarks came just two weeks after he and Henry Commission Chairwoman June Wood helped Russia-based developer PNK Group break ground on a new 1.1 million-square-foot logistics center in McDonough. While the project does not yet have a tenant, officials behind the development expect to fill the building easily because of Henry’s strength as a logistics hub. Distribution centers for at least 25 companies, including Home Depot, Wayfair and Ghirardelli, are near the new facility.

“When you look at the map and you see all these different brands and operators, it gives a great indication that this is a viable area for commerce,” Mark Stiles, a developer for PNK Group, said in an interview about why Henry’s logistics business has grown.

While Sledge said the county will widen its outreach to other industries, he said Henry will continue to grow its logistics and manufacturing base. More than half of the county's businesses are in manufacturing and about 28 percent is in the logistics sector.

“It would be irresponsible for us, as a development authority and as a staff, to not continue to actively pursue those opportunities,” he said.