Dot Foods' Purchase Seen As Good News For Toombs

(COMPANY PRESS RELEASE) The recent sale of a warehouse freezer and land to an Illinois-based food redistributor will fill this onion capital with work and cash.

Dot Foods Inc. will create nearly 75 jobs its first two years and about 140 jobs in five years. It anticipates an $8 million capital investment in Toombs County during its first five years, county leaders have said.

"We're looking forward to spending 1998 preparing this facility for full operation in 1999 and having new employee team members join the Dot team from the Vidalia, Toombs County area," Patrick F. Tracy, the company's chief executive officer, said Thursday from his Illinois office.

The privately owned Dot Foods will take over the 100,000-square-foot freezer along Ga. 292 that previously had been owned by Bruno's and Piggly Wiggly Southern -- both of which were in grocery sales and food distribution. The freezer had been vacant for about 14 months.

Dot Foods also bought 44 acres of land adjacent to the freezer.

Tracy said he expects to open in the fall and make the first shipment in January 1999. Employees will start work in October, he said.

Dot Foods was founded in 1960 by Robert Tracy, who continues to serve as chairman of the board. His son, Patrick F. Tracy -- one of seven Tracy children working at Dot Foods -- is the chief executive officer. The company is based in Mount Sterling, Ill., and has facilities in Williamsport, Md., and Modesto, Calif.

"Dot Foods is very happy to be locating our distribution center in Vidalia, Ga.," Patrick Tracy said in a prepared statement.

"The state/county/city economic package that was put together for us, as well as the availability of this excellent distribution center, all combined together to provide a very competitive package."

He would not comment Thursday on the economic package or the sale price.

"This was truly a community effort and on behalf of the community and the (Toombs County Development Authority), we welcome Dot Foods to Toombs County," said Wayne Hartley, chairman of the development authority.

"It means -- number one -- increased employment. It also means a very substantial investment by Dot Foods in the land, building and subsequent modifications they'll make to that facility."

The county's unemployment rate is about 9 percent, Hartley said.

Company leaders were impressed with the area's infrastructure, educational system and cooperation between the city and county, Patrick Tracy said. The work ethic, values and commitment found in rural areas also were attractive, he said.

The Vidalia Municipal Airport also swayed the decision to move into Vidalia.