By Charles Oliver
Renovation of two historic Dalton buildings had to be put on hold for more than a year while the developer waited for state and federal approval, but Barrett Properties President Bob Caperton says he's ready to move forward with the first project, converting the former Belk building at 307 S. Hamilton St. into apartments.
After that project is underway, he can focus more closely on renovating the historic railroad depot at 110 Depot St.
"We are excited to announce that the Belk-Gallant project has made significant strides in the last couple of months and we are close to starting construction," Caperton said. "The tax credit process has taken longer than we ever anticipated. We applied for state and federal historic preservation tax credits in June of 2019 and navigated that process until we received final approval from National Park Service in November of 2020. We are currently awaiting revised drawings from our architect that will reflect the conditions set forth in our approval."
Caperton said after he receives the final drawings he can hire a contractor to work on the Belk project.
"We plan to immediately move forward with the revitalization of the Dalton depot after releasing the Belk development to a contractor," he said. "The depot, like the Belk-Gallant building, is a tax credit project, so, it too, will not be fast-paced. However, we prioritize the outcome of these projects over the time frame and we feel both will be successful."
State and federal approval of any plans for the depot are needed because the depot, built in 1852 by the Western&Atlantic Railroad, is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Caperton said the Belk project should be finished about six months after the contractor starts work. He did not give a timetable for the depot.
The 20,000-square-foot building at 307 S. Hamilton St. in downtown Dalton opened in 1941 as a Belk department store. More recently, the building housed the offices of state probation services.
The building will have 18 apartments, two of them two bedroom and the rest will be single bedroom. It will also have a commercial space of about 750 square feet on the first floor facing Hamilton Street.
Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce President Rob Bradham welcomed news that the Belk project is moving forward.
"If we want downtown Dalton to be the best it can be, we need additional residences in our downtown footprint," he said. "The redevelopment of the Belk building definitely helps us accomplish that goal. We applaud Mr. Caperton for taking this risk and sticking with this project. It’ll have a tremendous impact on downtown Dalton."
The City Council approved a $300,000 bid from Dalton's Barrett Properties for the depot in October 2018. Barrett was the only company to bid on the building when the council put it up for sale.
The city closed the depot in November 2015, citing conditions that “posed potential health hazards to the public,” including mold. The building has remained empty since. Before that, it was the home for some 25 years of the Dalton Depot & Trackside Tavern restaurant.
According to the company’s proposal, the renovated depot will house two distinct businesses, a restaurant in the northern section and a bar in the southern section. The grand opening was listed as Dec. 31, 2020.
Some City Council members said Friday they understand that Barrett Properties' failure to make deadlines was out of the company's control.
"We looked into it, and everything was backlogged at the state level, and that really kept him from moving forward," said City Councilman Tyree Goodlett.
City Councilwoman Annalee Harlan said in retrospect the sale agreement should have had provisions for delays caused by regulatory hurdles.
"The spirit of the agreement was that the buyer would not just sit on the building for 10 or 15 years," she said. "The depot is in the heart of the city, and we want to have something in there. I believe that is still Mr. Caperton's goal and he is abiding by the spirit of the agreement."
Harlan said when Barrett Properties has a more concrete idea of how long work on the depot will take it might be appropriate for the sides to revisit their agreement and create an addendum or a memorandum of understanding setting a timetable for the work.
Last week our Entrepreneurship Committee Co-Chair Bryan Macon and his wife Debbie were presented as the newest inductees of the Northwest Georgia District of Junior Achievement’s Business Hall of Fame. Entrepreneurship Committee member Bob Caperton was also inducted as JA’s 2020 Rising Star.
Bryan, Debbie, and Bob were all instrumental in the opening of the Dalton Innovation Accelerator and the launch of our annual PitchDIA competition. We thank them for all their efforts to support entrepreneurship and for the role models that they are for the young people of our community! #believegreaterdalton #entrepreneurship #juniorachievementofnwga
August 31, 2019 Haisten Willis — When outsiders hear the word “Dalton,” the next word that comes to mind is typically “carpet.”
The city proudly claims its textile heritage, with the vast majority of the world’s carpet still manufactured within a 65-mile radius of downtown.
Yet Dalton and Whitfield County leaders want people to know there’s a lot more to the area. For one, it’s now about flooring, not just carpet, but also a broader array of products including wood, vinyl and other materials.
“Our industry has diversified,” says Rob Bradham, president and CEO of the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce. “Now we’re the floor-covering capital of the world.”
Beyond that, Dalton offers plenty for both residents and businesses, with more on the way. New manufacturers continue to take advantage of the region’s strengths, the city’s downtown is in the midst of a revival and an entrepreneurial spirit more than 100 years strong rages on.
“It’s an exciting time to be the mayor right now,” says Dalton Mayor Dennis Mock. “I call it the Dalton difference. We are very community-minded here, and when we set out to do something we’re good at accomplishing our goals.”
In the age of globalization, Dalton and Whitfield County stand out for manufacturing prowess, a reputation the area not only accepts but relishes. Whitfield is Georgia’s 25th largest county, but the state’s third largest manufacturer, says Carl Campbell, executive director of the Dalton-Whitfield County Joint Development Authority.
“Manufacturing is who we are and what we do,” he says. “We make things here in Dalton.”
First and foremost are the flooring titans – Shaw Industries, Mohawk Industries and Engineered Floors are Dalton’s three largest employers. All three not only have headquarters in the area, but also own significant manufacturing facilities as well.
And businesses build a lot more than that in Whitfield County, from the essential to the obscure. Lens wipes and silicone scrubbers, rugs and clay pigeons, Frisbee golf discs, solar panels and non-permanent Lego glue, it’s all made in Dalton.
The city’s story is one of entrepreneurship. Modern tufted carpet was invented in Dalton before becoming a multibillion-dollar industry. Today, leaders push future innovation through a program called the Dalton Innovation Accelerator (DIA).
With headquarters in downtown Dalton’s Landmark Building, DIA partners include Dalton State College, the chamber and Barrett Properties. The program launched with the first annual PitchDIA contest in 2018, which has become one of the city’s biggest success stories.
Middle schooler and Dalton Public Schools student Tripp Phillips won last year with an invention called Le-Glue, a water-soluble glue for Legos. He got $5,000 and office space in the Landmark Building for his efforts, but that was only the beginning. Last October, Phillips appeared on the ABC series Shark Tank, securing funding from Kevin O’Leary, and now aims to see a pack of Le-Glue included with each Lego set sold worldwide.
While DIA’s instant success is a great story, it’s just one part of a larger initiative called Believe Greater Dalton.
Spearheaded by local groups including the chamber, Believe Greater Dalton encompasses six areas: downtown revitalization, raising education outcomes, economic development, entrepreneurship, housing and improving Dalton’s self image.
Creating jobs isn’t a problem for Dalton. Some 30,000 employees commute to Whitfield County for work. However, of those who bring home $40,000 or more at a job in Whitfield, 62 percent reside outside of the county. Believe Greater Dalton focuses heavily on reaching that 62 percent.
On the education side, the area claims city and county public school systems, Dalton State College (DSC) and a campus of Georgia Northwestern Technical College. Due to the county’s large Hispanic population, many students speak Spanish at home. For this reason the focus is on improving fifth grade reading levels, rather than the more common standard of third grade, along with middle grades math.
Dalton State does its part and then some to reach the region’s minority students, actively recruiting Hispanic high schoolers and assisting them once they arrive on campus as Georgia’s first official Hispanic-Serving Institution, a designation that unlocks federal benefits.
More than half of Dalton State’s 5,100 enrollees are first-generation college students, and roughly 87 percent hail from northwest Georgia.
“Our students make very clear that they want to get a job when they graduate, and they want to know that they’re majoring in something that is preparing them for a career,” says Dalton State President Margaret Venable. “Most of our students come to us from Northwest Georgia, they want to stay in Northwest Georgia and they’re looking for jobs in Northwest Georgia. We’re trying to produce a workforce that fills those jobs.”
DSC’s Wright School of Business works closely with the chamber, with workforce development always paramount. Major programs at the school span health and wellness, accounting and marketing, logistics and supply chain management. Science graduates often find work with flooring companies, which use lots of chemical compounds in their products. Dalton State also partners with the two local school systems through dual enrollment programs and, for younger students, literacy promotion.
On the other side of the equation are people like Brian Cooksey, a 25-year Shaw Industries employee who leads the company’s workforce development initiatives.
Especially as automation continues to impact flooring and other industries, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education becomes more important in middle school and even earlier, with efforts targeting both male and female STEM engagement. It’s not just traditional manufacturing jobs the company needs to fill. Shaw employs some 400 IT workers, plus many other roles that don’t directly involve manufacturing.
“No matter what type of job you dream of, it exists at Shaw,” says Cooksey.
Programs such as the logistics track at Dalton State and a two-year engineering degree from Georgia Northwestern Tech greatly benefit not only Shaw, but other area companies as well.
“It’s a win for everybody,” Cooksey says.
Among Believe Greater Dalton’s goals, downtown revitalization impacts at least four of the others: economic development, entrepreneurship, housing and raising Dalton’s self image.
Luckily, the city is making good progress. Bradham says that three years ago downtown parking lots were empty, and now residents complain it’s hard to find a spot. That’s a good problem to have.
Along with the DIA offices, a major draw is Burr Performing Arts Park, which opened last year. Finding something to do downtown used to be a challenge. Now, Shakespeare plays and live music are featured on a regular basis.
“Downtown options are continuing to increase. There is momentum and excitement,” says Allyson Coker, Believe Greater Dalton project manager. “Now it’s a given that on Friday night you’re going to Burr Park, and we’ve got other restaurant options opening up soon.”
For before or after the show, a host of restaurants and bars already open include Cherokee Brewing & Pizza Co., Dalton Brewing Co. and Cyra’s. Alliant Health Plans recently moved its headquarters from elsewhere in Whitfield County to downtown, bringing 120 employees with it and helping to fill restaurants during lunch. And just a mile north of town, a former textile facility has been converted into The Mill at Crown Garden, a mixed-use development that could be described as Dalton’s answer to Atlanta’s Ponce City Market.
Now the focus turns to housing. With just 24 housing units downtown, any project will make an impact, such as the 18-unit Belk-Gallant building renovation being led by Barrett Properties. The site of a former department store that was built in 1941 and still fondly remembered by older residents, Belk-Gallant is being converted to a series of mostly one-bedroom apartments. The building will maintain its historic facade and its status as a pillar of downtown Dalton.
“We’re going to make this building a real community asset again,” says Bob Caperton, president of Barrett Properties. “It will be a very cool project and will nearly double the inventory of housing in downtown Dalton.”
Barrett is also involved in revitalizing the former Dalton railroad depot, another historic property that will house a bar and restaurant upon reopening. Elsewhere, businessman and Georgia State Rep. Kasey Carpenter is working on a 31-room boutique hotel on the site of a former bank. It’s the latest in a series of Dalton investments for Carpenter, which include Cherokee Brewing & Pizza Co. and the Oakwood Cafe.
“This is a town built on entrepreneurship,” says Bradham.
And Dalton leaders plan to keep building and hope more hotels and high-quality housing land not just downtown but across the county, jelling with initiatives like DIA to move the city forward in the 21st century.
A drive through Dalton confirms the obvious – it’s beautiful in the North Georgia mountains.
But upon closer inspection, the specific offerings for Whitfield County outdoor enthusiasts make it more than just a nice place to ride around.
The city’s western edge, including the Dalton State College campus, juts into the John’s Mountain Wildlife Management Area, a 24,849-acre property spanning Walker, Whitfield, Gordon and Floyd counties. Along with hunting opportunities for deer, bear, turkey and small game, the area features a shooting range; bike, equestrian and hiking trails; picnic sites; and primitive campsites. Dalton State College (DSC) students can even enjoy a hike between classes thanks to a trio of trails adjacent to campus, with a fourth on the way. DSC President Margaret Venable is known to stroll along them from time to time.
“We’re always working to bolster our outdoor amenities in Dalton,” says Rob Bradham, president and CEO of the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce. “This is a beautiful part of the country with some pretty mountainous terrain. We’re trying to turn that into amenities for our local community.”
The newest addition to those amenities is Haig Mill Lake Park, a 300-plus-acre public park featuring the 126-acre Haig Mill Lake. Debuting last fall, the area includes a 3.5-mile walking and biking trail surrounding the lake, plus fishing piers, a dock for paddleboats and canoes, picnic pavilion, amphitheater and nature-themed playground for kids.
“We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback,” says Dalton Superintendent of Parks Steve Knoblett, who has spent three decades working for the city. “Everybody who comes in is really surprised how nice this park is.”
Haig is now Dalton’s largest park as well, edging out the older Heritage Point Regional Park. It owes its creation to the lake, which is man-made and serves as a drinking water reservoir for the city. For this reason, swimming and other activities, such as driving a boat with a motor, aren’t allowed. Still, there’s plenty to offer for adventurous types.
Dalton High’s track teams practice on the trail, and it hosts a pair of 5Ks, though it’s also flat enough to be enjoyed by beginners. Plans include a lodge overlooking the lake that could be rented out for weddings or company events.
The city’s outdoor options don’t end there. There’s the Raisin Woods Mountain Bike Trail, featuring seven different courses, and the Heritage Point Disc Golf Course, which can be played using locally manufactured Prodigy Disc products.
Lastly, though it isn’t necessarily a place for recreation, Burr Performing Arts Park celebrated its grand opening last year in downtown Dalton and now provides residents a chance to enjoy the outdoors while watching a show or concert on Friday or Saturday nights. In Dalton, the outdoors can be enjoyed whether driving, walking, biking or hiking, hurling a disc or even just sitting and listening to the music on a cool evening.
DALTON, Ga. — Barrett Properties is proud to have been honored by the Dalton Historic Preservation Commission and the City of Dalton with the Outstanding Preservation Project award of 2018 for 112 West King Street. This adaptive reuse project involved setting a pre-engineered structure inside the remnants of the historic Hurt’s Cleaners building and focused on highlighting the historic features while maintaining functionality for tenant, Dalton Brewing Company. Design for the project was a collaboration between Dalton Brewing Company and Barrett Properties, with construction completed by Barrett Properties and Neal Saxson Builders.
DALTON, Ga. — The Dalton Innovation Accelerator will host its second annual pitch competition on Oct. 8, and the call for pitches is open from now until June 15.
Each applicant to the competition will take part in a wayfinding meeting with local community leaders, including investors, business professors and entrepreneurs of all kinds. The advisory panel will take several factors into consideration including the market opportunity for the idea, the overall business model of the idea, the capabilities of the management team and the strength of product/service offering.
From that point, applicants can go through a business boot camp to help form their idea into a business plan, or, if the applicant already has a business plan, more wayfinding will be available periodically until the semifinalists are announced on Aug. 30. Semifinalists receive continued mentorship from the aforementioned community business leaders.
Prizes for the winner include a cash award of $5,000, office space in downtown Dalton rent free for the first six months, a quick start website package and more. Those interested in participating in the pitch can apply at daltoninnovationaccelerator.com/apply.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thomas Blackwell has been given an opportunity not available to many college students.
His work on marketing projects for one of Dalton’s successful industries could have a lasting impact on the company. And the business management major at Dalton State doesn’t take that responsibility lightly.
“The experience I’ve been given is preparing me up for the real world,” said Blackwell, who graduates in May. “I sit in class now and hear things, and I think of how this can help. I think about my work even when I’m not working on it. I want good things for the business, and I feel confident the work I’m doing will help them succeed.”
Blackwell is one of 13 business students this semester who are in an entrepreneurship class working in the recently opened Dalton Innovation Accelerator downtown. The accelerator is a startup incubator located in the historic Landmark Building with numerous community partners including the Wright School of Business, Inventure IT, Barrett Properties, Believe Greater Dalton, and the Downtown Dalton Development Authority, as well as community leaders Bryan and Debbie Macon.
Dalton State students provide support to startup businesses and companies that are already established but need assistance with a specific project. The students complete projects ranging from marketing research to building a webpage to planning and setting up for an event or business meeting.
“We have some students working on projects specifically for the accelerator, some projects for startups, and some for local businesses and nonprofits,” said Barry Slaymaker, a part-time business professor and vice president of Barrett Properties, which owns the Landmark Building.
“We have six different organizations we’re working with right now,” he said. “This exceeds my expectations for our first semester. It is amazing when we offer free work how quickly people respond. There’s a wide variety of projects, and our students have a little bit of everything going on right now. They can gain experience in a many different areas of business.”
Angel Rodriguez, who is double majoring in marketing and business management, is already a business owner of Dalton Food Runners, a local dinner delivery company. Being in the accelerator class has helped him strengthen his own business and marketing efforts.
“I have been running my business out of my home,” he said. “I see now how much better a business can run in the right space. I like that this is a modern office space, not cubicles. The project I’m working on with the Dalton Little Theatre has taught me key skills I’ll be able to carry over into my own business. I’m learning I don’t have to do it all. It’s OK to delegate some of these responsibilities.”
Blackwell and Nich Bartley are both working on projects for Andreas Bruhwiler, president and owner of Alrol of America. Bruhwiler is originally from Switzerland so the students have had to adjust to working with someone from a different culture.
“I think continuously about what I’ve learned about international business,” said Bartley, a marketing major. “Even though this is a Dalton-based company, Andreas is not from the U.S. and does things differently. It was a bit of a challenge at first, but I began to see the benefits of his way of managing.”
“Andreas gives us milestones and we have deadlines to meet those,” Blackwell said. “But I find we work consistently and don’t procrastinate. Sometimes, in a class, we put off work until the last-minute. But we’re not doing this here. This is giving us a hands-on experience. We aren’t taking tests or sitting in lectures.”
Students are learning self-accountability, time management, and better communication skills as they are honing the hard skills learned in classes.
“I’m learning how to communicate with people in a business setting,” said Taylor Bailey, a management information systems major, who is working to increase visibility of the accelerator. “In class if we’re not doing a project, we’re not going to stand up and talk to people. But here, you have to. Communication skills in the workplace has been the biggest part of what I’ve learned at the accelerator.
“Representing this place is a real-world experience for me,” she said. “I’m dealing with local business people, not just other classmates and professors.”
The accelerator class is structured more like an internship than a traditional class. Students set their own hours and are responsible for their own work.
“I’m not here all the time,” Slaymaker said. “I’m not here to hold hands or make sure everybody is here every time they’re supposed to be, and that hasn’t been an issue. They’re responsible students, and they’re about to graduate. The students have shown a tremendous level of maturity. They are professionals. I have no qualms about them working with our businesses.”
One idea Slaymaker teaches his students, whether in the traditional classroom or in the accelerator, is that they must become comfortable with the unknown.
“Be comfortable with ambiguity, and be ready to work hard,” he said. “We’re putting our students next to and in meetings with CEOs, presidents, and vice presidents. They learn real-world skills here in this safe environment. Students in this class will engage across the spectrum of the business world. They’re very visible. No one here is able to hide in their back office and peck away at a computer for four months as an intern. You will see and be seen here at the accelerator.”
Ensuring students are ready for their first job after graduation is a priority for the WSOB.
“The Dalton Innovation Accelerator has not only expanded the presence of DSC's WSOB to downtown Dalton, but it has also added a level of interaction for our students with the business community, further preparing them for the world of work,” said Dr. Marilyn Helms, dean of the WSOB. “Many of our business majors consider self-employment as a future career goal. Assisting the area's nascent entrepreneurs is a valuable learning experience for our students. As they help these Dalton businesses in their incubation with setting up a website and social media presence, researching competitors, initializing accounting practices and a host of other tasks, these students better understand the steps involved in the entrepreneurship process.
“The more our students are involved at this early level, as juniors and seniors, with the business community, the better for us all,” Helms said. “Students are quite pleased with their work, and I'm extremely pleased with their growth this semester. This community interaction supports the mission of DSC as well. WSOB faculty are involved in a host of high-impact practices, and this is one of our shining examples within the WSOB curriculum.”
Dalton State College’s C. Lamar and Ann Wright School of Business recently added another way students can gain real-world work experience before graduation. They now have a downtown office in the Dalton Innovation Accelerator.
Students will be able to intern at the accelerator assisting startup businesses for class credit.
“Accelerators are the leading edge for new venture creation toda`y,” said Marilyn Helms, dean of the Wright School of Business. “Accelerators have shared office and work spaces and are typically popular starting points for high-tech or service-based businesses. It’s ideal for startups because it reduces overhead while businesses work to become established. It follows a trend we’re seeing with millennials and Generation Z. These business students want to be their own boss, and they want to support small, local businesses more than large chains.
“Our students will be able to intern in our downtown accelerator and assist in a research role for these startups,” she said. “They may be gathering documents and information on the industries and competitors for a business. They may be providing help with establishing a digital presence, such as with social media and a website. They will do legwork for these businesses. This office is a living lab for our students. It’s a great experience for them, and it meets the needs of our community.”
Students will be required to take several classes before being eligible to apply for the internship. They’ll be led by Barry Slaymaker, a part-time business professor and vice president of Barrett Properties, which owns the Landmark Building where the accelerator is located.
“The partnership between Dalton State and the Dalton Innovation Accelerator is one that we see as being mutually beneficial in many facets,” Slaymaker said. “For Dalton State, the opportunity for outreach in the entrepreneurial community and the ability to directly connect with future employers will be invaluable. Conversely, the Dalton Innovation Accelerator will benefit from having access to best-in-class faculty to assist with curriculum design and lead business skills workshops.
“Our students will be engaging directly with entrepreneurs; from helping conduct market research, building business cases for their solutions and developing business plans, to designing long-term strategy,” he said. “The ongoing presence of DSC students will be an integral part of the DIA success.”
This is the second space Dalton State occupies downtown. The Bandy Heritage Center has exhibition space in the Dalton Freight Depot.
“Dalton State has committed as part of its current strategic plan to expanding our presence in downtown Dalton,” said Margaret Venable, president of Dalton State. “We recognize the importance of the Dalton community in our own success. The reputation of the Greater Dalton community impacts our own image and ability to attract and retain students and employees. We are proud to engage in the work of the Believe Greater Dalton initiative and the Dalton Innovation Accelerator to provide an important resource for our community.”
This hands-on experience gives Wright School of Business students an advantage when searching for their first full-time job in their career paths.
“We’re a professional school,” Helms said. “We’re strongly encouraging internships, networking and how to present yourself as a professional in business. We want our students to have all the advantages.”
The Wright School of Business recently reorganized to help better provide students with resources for internships and job placement. Helms has dedicated Professor Jamie Connors, assistant dean, to help students with internships and job placement.
“We’re also using area executives to teach several upper-level business classes,” Helms said. “It helps students find a place in the workforce, and they’re learning from people who are experts in their field.”
Slaymaker hosts a series of speakers in his entrepreneurship class. Scheduled to speak this semester are state Rep. Kasey Carpenter, owner of the Oakwood Café and Cherokee Pizza; Ken White of Whitecrest Carpet and White Capital Partners; Craig Hankins of C&H Services; Tom Minor IV, an attorney with the Minor Firm; Joe Song of Kidian, a new business that launched in the Atlanta Tech Village; and Lamar Wright, a philanthropist and business leader for whom the school is named.
July 30--DALTON, Ga. -- HealthOne Alliance and Alliant Health Plans will be relocating their corporate headquarters to downtown Dalton. HealthOne has been working with Barrett Properties to move to the four-story building at the corner of Waugh and Pentz streets (the BB&T building). HealthOne Allianceand Alliant Health Plans will begin construction this fall with plans to occupy the third and fourth floors.
Dalton has been home to HealthOne Alliance and Alliant Health Plans for more than 21 years. HealthOne Alliance and Alliant Health Plans have experienced significant growth to 90,000 members, expanding their footprint well beyond the boundaries of Murray and Whitfield counties, to 24 counties in the North Georgia region. The provider network has approximately 17,000 physicians, hospitals and ancillaries, and the health plan has in-sourced many of its vital functions, including customer service and claims processing, as well as a variety of technology platforms. This has allowed the companies to expand their workforce, create new jobs and ultimately outgrow the current location by two-fold. Because the provider network and health insurance company have been committed to remaining in Dalton, they have been searching for office space for the past 10 months. In the meantime, they have distributed employees throughout their North Tibbs Road location and the former J.C. Penney space at Walnut Square Mall until they were able to find a suitable location.
"As we looked for a large enough location within Whitfield County to meet our needs, we were attracted to the downtown area and we found a partner in Barrett Properties that had the same goals as HealthOne Alliance and Alliant Health Plans: stay local, see downtown grow and be a part of the positive change in our community," said Amanda Reed, chief operating officer of HealthOne and Alliant.
Barrett Properties recently purchased the BB&T building.
"The building is a premier asset in downtown and having tenants like HealthOne Alliance, Alliant Health Plans, BB&T Bank and McGriff Insurance Services (formerly BB&T Insurance) is a great example of the work our community is doing to attract and retain professional jobs," said Barry Slaymaker, head of strategy at Barrett Properties. "We have made downtown Dalton our focus because we believe downtown can be the economic engine for the entire county."
Reed said that, "In addition to new restaurants, businesses and public events downtown, we hope the relocation of HealthOne Alliance and Alliant Health Plans will help continue the amazing momentum that local leaders, business owners, and investors have already begun. We are a company that was born and raised here locally, and we are excited about being downtown and having the opportunity to be part of the economic force that brings positive awareness to the downtown area."
"We are excited about the transition and repurposing of this building as we understand its importance to the viability of our downtown area," said Bill Davies, BB&T market president for Dalton. "When the renovation is complete, we believe our clients will have a greatly enhanced banking experience and we appreciate their patience during the construction period. We are also thankful of the efforts and hard work of so many individuals and groups who were involved in making this arrangement a reality."
HealthOne Alliance and Alliant Health Plans, their respective boards of directors, and their more than 120 employees are looking forward to joining the downtown Dalton community later this year.
"This move is evidence of the company's 21-year- long dedication to the community. We're proud to be a part of the downtown momentum and to have the only state-wide, non-profit health insurance company in Georgia based here in Dalton" said Norris Little, Alliant Health Plans board member.
Committees are a big thing in Dalton. I have personally been involved in seven or eight over the last 10 years. I think they, perhaps better than anything, demonstrate what is so uniquely gratifying about living in a small town -- that anyone who is willing to give their time can have a big impact on their community. Whether it is a charity, a church, a fundraiser or a specific effort , just about anyone can shape the future of Dalton.
While Dalton offers this perk and many others that come with small town America, it has something other like-size communities lack -- big-time business. We might have five businesses with sales near or well over $1 billion headquartered in or around our little town. We virtually control at least three major industries. Dalton might be the only small town in America that offers the economic opportunities of a mid-sized metropolitan area.
So, why don't we celebrate this distinctive combination? That is exactly what we are doing with the Dalton Innovation Accelerator and the PitchDIA competition on Tuesday, May 15. It started with an idea conceived by Stacey Roach of Inventure IT. He brought it to me and I immediately loved it.
We formed a committee of business-oriented people and it did not take long for everyone to grasp that we were on to something. I will concede that the timing was lucky. This all happened to coincide with Believe Greater Dalton and a renewed interest in downtown. But, more than anything, it was the idea and the people. We received more than 60 applications in less than 60 days. And, they were good ... some of them were really good. We are now down to three finalists and three alternates and they are all better than I suspected the eventual winner would be.
We have two young, energetic, just out of Georgia Tech engineers that happen to share a passion for Dalton and manufacturing. They also happen to be engaged to get married right before the event -- they will head from their honeymoon straight after the competition. They created an app that will bring gamification to the manufacturing industry.
We have a 20-year educator who has rightly recognized that student files need to be digitized and utilized. His idea or one like it will revolutionize the way student files are handled.
We have a relative outsider that made his way to Dalton from Colorado about a year ago who is intent on bringing some of the outdoor recreational hobbies that are rife out west to northwest Georgia. He has created a platform that pairs local land owners that underutilize their property with people interested in hunting, fishing, hiking, etc. on such properties. Wait until you hear his startling facts about land access in our state and his knowledge and passion for his subject.
We have a local dedicated pet owner who created a prototype that enables the safe release of her dog from its leash once she leaves her garage and shuts the door. This prevents the dog from running outside into traffic but allows it the comfort of the entire garage and freedom from a leash.
We have a Dalton State College student that already has a business utilizing drones with infrared technology to scope out potential problems farmers may have with their crops.
We have a local middle-schooler who is a second generation entrepreneur and a showman. He has a profitable business, a factory and a lab where he created a product that binds Legos together in a non-permanent way so they don't fall apart when they are moved or knocked over.
They are going to blow you away -- I promise. Please come to the event at Stage 123 in downtown Dalton. The pre-party starts on Gordon Street at 5 p.m. The competition begins at 6 pm.
The quality of this event will be a testament to a great idea (credit Stacey Roach), the passion and commitment of about 10 business leaders (you know who you are) and the notion that the entrepreneurial spirit that defined Dalton has either been reawakened or never died.
Bob Caperton is president of Barrett Properties.
DALTON, Ga. — "Hey, you're the boy from 'Shark Tank.' I saw you on TV," someone recently said to Tripp Phillips while at the AMC Classic movie theater in Dalton.
Phillips, a 12-year-old Dalton resident, is indeed the boy from "Shark Tank," an ABC reality television show where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to celebrity investors (called "sharks") — all millionaires or billionaires— with the hopes of receiving their financial backing and mentoring.
Phillips was on the "Shark Tank" season 10 premiere in October 2018 and landed a deal with "shark" Kevin O'Leary for Phillips' product Le-Glue, a non-permanent glue that holds Legos and other building blocks together without damaging them.
Saturday through Tuesday, Phillips, a seventh-grader at Dalton Middle School, and his father Lee Phillips will attend the annual Toy Fair in New York featuring some 2,800 toy buyers and sellers. At the trade show, toy companies from throughout the world "sell product, pitch and exchange ideas, meet with partners" and more, according to the Toy Fair's website.
Lee Phillips said O'Leary told him about the toy show shorty after filming their "Shark Tank" episode last June. Lee Phillips filled out an application for a booth in August, but it was lost. When he called to inquire in December, Lee Phillips said he was told it was too late and all booths were filled.
"I called Kevin (O'Leary) and 10 minutes later he called back and said we have a booth," Lee Phillips said.
Lee Phillips said since Tripp won "Shark Tank" they are in contact with O'Leary at least once a week by text or email. Thus far into the business relationship, O'Leary has been impressed with Tripp.
“Somebody put a 40-year-old executive in a 12-year-old’s body," O'Leary said in a statement to the Daily Citizen-News. "This kid has got it (and) we will do great together.”
Some of the toy industry's biggest companies are expected to be at the toy fair including Crayola, Hasbro, Lego Systems Inc. and The Pokémon Company.
"This is an amazing opportunity," Tripp said. "I'm very excited to showcase my glue with so many other people."
While in New York Tripp and his father plan to meet with representatives of Legos and Mega Bloks at their booth. Lee Phillips said there's a chance O'Leary could make an appearance at their Le-Glue booth. O'Leary's team is also trying to schedule interviews for Tripp with "CNBC," "The Ellen Show," "Fox News" and "Steve" (comedian Steve Harvey's talk show).
Tripp has been quite busy lately.
Last May, he won first place in the inaugural PitchDIA contest, winning $5,000 and becoming the first occupant in the Dalton Innovation Accelerator space in the Landmark Building in downtown Dalton, as well as winning various professional services from local firms. More than 60 companies entered the PitchDIA competition.
Bob Caperton, president and managing partner of Barrett Properties, said the business along with the Dalton Innovation Accelerator are "extremely proud of Tripp's continued success," adding that Tripp "will be the face of PitchDIA for years to come."
"We like to think we helped prepare him for 'Shark Tank' and beyond," he said. "We understand nothing was more important to his success than a great idea and a very supportive family."
Tripp said he's looking forward to more great things for his business. With the help of his father, mother Dana and younger sister Allee (the company's production manager), they are able to keep "everything running smoothly."
As for Tripp, he said he's still the same person he was before appearing on "Shark Tank."
"I don't really talk about it unless someone else brings it up," he said.
Barrett Properties President Bob Caperton says the company has invested “close to $10 million in downtown Dalton over the last five years or so.”
The company has acquired and renovated or is in the process of renovating some of the city’s most high-profile buildings: from the Landmark Building on Hamilton Street, to the BB&T building on Waugh Street, to the former Belk building to the historic historic train depot on Depot Street.
“We certainly believe in downtown,” said Caperton. “There’s a national trend of people starting to appreciate downtowns and wanting to live there. And there’s certainly a local trend of more things going on and more investment in downtown Dalton. The more you do, the more you own downtown, the more you benefit from a rising tide. It enhances the value of your other buildings.”
Dalton Mayor Dennis Mock said Barrett Properties is playing a big role in the revitalization of downtown.
“I think their investments show they have confidence in downtown, and when people like that have confidence, it gives other investors confidence,” he said. “And they are renovating some underused buildings and bringing more people downtown to work, live and shop.”
Barrett Properties was founded about 25 years ago by Caperton’s grandfather, the late Roy Barrett, who had previously founded and run Barrett Carpet Mills.
“He ran his carpet mill from about 1970 to 1993, and towards the tail end of that he started buying up small industrial properties and some small, multi-family residences, so he sort of dipped his toe in the water even before he committed full-time to the property business,” said Caperton.
Caperton has been president of the company since 2010.
“I’d say at least 80 percent of our properties are in Dalton and Whitfield County, but we have holdings east into Murray County, north to Athens, Tennessee; and south down to Atlanta. But virtually nothing west of here,” Caperton said.
Caperton said his first acquisition as president was the Landmark Building, a five-story former hotel dating to 1923.
“That would have been around 2014,” Caperton said. “My friend and one of my go-to real estate brokers, Bill Blackwood of Kinard Realty, called me about it. We talked about it, and I was interested in pretty much immediately. It was about 70 percent occupied. It’s now 100 percent occupied, so it was really about getting it just a little more efficient, just a little more occupied.”
The Landmark Building has been home for the past year of the Dalton Innovation Accelerator, which provides startup firms and small nonprofit organizations with office space, mentorship and support services.
“I can’t take full credit for the Dalton Innovation Accelerator,” said Caperton. “We leased the basement (of the Landmark Building) a few years ago to Inventure IT (a full-service technology company that provides services for companies and government agencies across the Southeast). “We developed a good relationship with them during a very extensive build out. During that process, we got to know the four partners. Shortly after that build out, Stacey Roach, one of the partners, approached me with the idea of setting up an accelerator and doing the pitch competition. I liked the idea. I brought it back to the office and talked to (Barrett Properties Vice President Barry Slaymaker) about it. He loved it. He was more gung-ho than I was.”
The accelerator hosts interns from Dalton State College who work with local entrepreneurs, small businesses and nonprofit organizations to help them hone their business plans.
Barrett Properties is now converting the former Belk building on the southern end of downtown Dalton into an apartment building with about 20 units.
“We’re are in the process of finalizing our decision on an architect. Once we do that, we can move on to construction,” he said. “But we are still aiming at delivery of the units by the end of the year.”
Caperton says Barrett Properties closed recently on the historic depot at 110 Depot St. The City Council accepted a $300,000 bid from the company last year. The building housed the popular Depot restaurant and bar for years. But the city closed the depot in November 2015, citing conditions that “posed potential health hazards to the public,” including mold. The building has remained empty since.
“We have not hired an architect. We want to get on that pretty quickly, but we are focusing our energies on the Belk building right now,” he said.
Caperton said the company’s plans still call for it to house two distinct businesses, a restaurant in the northern section and a bar in the southern section.
“That building has such history. It’s right at the center of town, and it’s an icon to people of my generation,” he said. “Downtown Dalton is already doing well, but I think that having it utilized again can only help. All of the business owners I talk to, even restaurant and bar owners, say they’d like to have it open. They say that anything that is good for downtown is good for their business.”
The following editorial appeared in the Dalton Daily Citizen on April 3rd, 2019
Tracing its roots back to Dalton’s first theatrical performance in 1869, the Dalton Little Theater is a city institution.
But it’s also a small nonprofit organization with limited funds.
“All of us at Dalton Little Theater are volunteers,” said theater secretary Margaret Zeisig. “There’s no paid staff. We’ve been trying for a year to get a business plan mapped out. But we have limited resources. I was talking to (Dalton State College adjunct professor) Barry Slaymaker, and he suggested interns from Dalton State at the Dalton Innovation Accelerator (DIA) could help. They have been wonderful.”
The accelerator, housed in 1,800 square feet of office space in the Landmark Building in downtown Dalton, opened last year. It provides startup firms and small nonprofit organizations with office space, mentorship and support services.
“Right now, we have 13 interns from Dalton State who are working out of this space with local entrepreneurs and business people and entrepreneurs — startups and small firms,” said Slaymaker, who is also vice president of Barrett Properties, which owns the Landmark Building.
“They are working on marketing strategies, business plans, doing financial work, human resources,” he said. “They are engaging on a deep level with these businesses and putting into practice what they have learned in the classroom.
Slaymaker says all but one of the interns will be graduating later this spring, so the internship is “essentially a capstone course for them.”
Zeisig said three of the interns are working with the Dalton Little Theater.
“They are working on Dalton Little Theater’s business plan, to enhance what we do in the community and also how we relate to the downtown master plan,” Zeisig said.
The Dalton Little Theater is in a historic firehouse on Pentz Street in downtown Dalton.
The Downtown Dalton Development Authority and Believe Greater Dalton, a joint public-private partnership aimed at implementing a five-year strategic plan for the city and Whitfield County, unveiled a master plan for downtown in February to help spur investment and increase shopping and dining opportunities in the area. Officially titled the Renaissance Strategic Vision and Plan, it was put together by the University of Georgia’s Car Vinson Institute for Government. The Georgia Municipal Association, the Georgia Cities Foundation and many local citizens, groups and officials had input into the plan.
“The work the interns have been doing has been great,” she said. “They have been asking us a lot of hard of questions. We’ve been having to go to some of our board members who have a lot of history with Dalton Little Theater to help us frame our answers. One question I found really interesting was ‘Why do you think you have been in existence as long as you have?’ I’ve been volunteering with the Dalton Little Theater since 2004, but I thought that people who have been involved even longer should answer that question, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the answers are.”
Mikayla Cass, a Dalton State senior majoring in management and minoring in entrepreneurship, is one of the interns at the accelerator and also an intern with Barrett Properties.
“I’ve really enjoyed the work. I’m here about 20 hours a week,” said Cass, a Ringgold resident. “I leave my house and drive straight here or to Barrett Properties, then I have most of my classes in the evening and I go home.”
Rock Spring resident Austin Renfrow, who is majoring in management, is one of the interns working with the Dalton Little Theater. He spends 10 hours a week at the accelerator.
“Basically, to do a business plan, you look at where you are now and where you want to be and then try to determine what you need to do to get there,” he said.
Renfrow said he is interested in starting a business after he graduates.
“I think the experience I’ve gained here will help me,” he said.
In addition to the interns, the accelerator can help connect entrepreneurs with local business leaders who can help mentor them.
About 60 people “co-work” in the accelerator.
“For $10 a month, they come in here and work 24/7. There’s water. There’s coffee. There’s gigabit internet. There’s modern decor,” said Barrett Properties President Bob Caperton. “A lot of these people are employees of existing businesses or own their own businesses but need a quiet space to work. Some are between offices and need something temporarily.”
The accelerator, and the interns working there, will play an integral role later this year as the second annual Pitch DIA contest heats up helping contestants hone their business ideas and their pitch.
The contest is based on the NBC television show “Shark Tank,” where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to potential investors.
Applications are already underway at daltoninnovationaccelerator.com/competition. The deadline for applications is June 15. But organizers say those who apply no later than April 10 will get extra mentoring and help polishing their business idea and their sales pitch. The semifinalists will be announced on Aug. 30, and the contest itself is Oct. 8.
Dalton Middle School student Tripp Phillips won the first Pitch DIA contest last year and went on to appear on “Shark Tank,” where he reached a deal with investor Kevin O’Leary to buy into his company Le-Glue, which makes a non-permanent glue that holds Legos and other building blocks together without damaging them.
“It would be great to be able to find and give a boost to the next Tripp Phillips,” said Marilyn Helms, dean of Dalton State College’s Wright School of Business and one of the judges of the 2018 PitchDIA contest.
The following editorial appeared in the Dalton Daily Citizen on September 27th, 2018
For decades across two centuries, the Western & Atlantic depot in downtown bustled with activity as passengers shuffled on and off trains there.
Railroad travel waned in popularity in the mid-1900s as cars and planes worked themselves into American culture as a quicker, more efficient means to move around the country. That change in travel caused the depot to close to passenger trains.
In 1978, the city of Dalton purchased the structure that was originally built in 1852 by the Western & Atlantic Railroad. The depot was converted into a restaurant and bar in the early 1990s and, like the passenger depot years before, teemed with activity. That eatery — the Dalton Depot & Trackside Tavern — closed in November 2015.
Now, the historic depot sits empty gathering cobwebs. With each passing day it inches closer to being downtown Dalton’s eyesore, not downtown Dalton’s crown jewel.
The Dalton City Council wants to sell the depot. Earlier this year, council members asked the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation to market it to potential buyers and ensure that it is preserved as a historic building. The city put the building up for bid. Earlier this month, potential buyers toured the building.
Only one company, Dalton-based Barrett Properties, submitted a bid. Barrett Properties wants to restore the depot to its “glory days” as a restaurant and bar. According to the company’s proposal, the renovated depot would house two distinct businesses — a restaurant in the northern section and a bar in the southern section. The grand opening is listed as Dec. 31, 2020.
The company bid $300,000 to purchase the building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
City officials are mulling the proposal and have forwarded the proposal to the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation for their review and consultation. City Administrator Jason Parker told this newspaper he could have a recommendation for City Council members at their Monday meeting.
We are certainly pleased that a local company sees the potential of the depot. Adding to our optimism is Barrett Properties’ track record of investing in Dalton and its downtown. Barrett Properties owns several buildings downtown, including the former Belk building at 307 S. Hamilton St., which it is developing into apartments, and the Landmark Building, which now houses the Dalton Innovation Accelerator, the city’s first business incubator.
Unfortunately, the cash-strapped City Council lacks the money necessary to properly restore the depot to its former glory. The depot has remained unoccupied going on three years in November. We fear that without some action from the City Council — whether by selling the depot or by investing money to protect it — the neglected building will suffer the same fate of many historic structures that no longer exist in our city.
That’s why we believe the City Council should seriously consider Barrett Properties’ proposal. Council members, who lack the knowledge of preserving historic structures, should solicit advice from historic groups and professionals at home and across the state. Members of the Whitfield-County Historical Society, the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, the state Historic Preservation Division and the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation should all have representatives at the table. The City Council should also seek input from Dalton residents, since we own the depot.
Selling the depot would be a boon to the city’s bottom line. Selling the depot to the right developer would be a boon to downtown, and the city overall.
We hope our City Council makes the right, informed decision.
Photo Courtesy Dalton Daily Citizen
Officials with Dalton’s Barrett Properties say they plan to bring the historic railroad depot in downtown Dalton back to its “glory days” as a restaurant and bar.
Barrett Properties was the only bidder for the property, which is owned by the city of Dalton, when bids were opened Monday at Dalton City Hall. The City Council wants to sell the depot and asked the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation earlier this year to help market it to potential buyers and make sure that it is preserved as a historic building. Earlier this month, the potential buyers toured the building.
“We have relayed the bidder’s proposed rehabilitation plan to the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation for their review and consultation,” said City Administrator Jason Parker.
Parker said he could have a recommendation for City Council members at their Oct. 1 meeting. Parker said Barrett bid $300,000 for the depot.
In a statement, Barrett President Bob Caperton and Vice President Barry Slaymaker noted that downtowns across the country have experienced “dramatic improvement and emphasis in the last 10 years.”
“The way we see it, Dalton is only in the third inning of a downtown renaissance,” they said. “That is why we see opportunity. It is our conviction that in five years or less, downtown Dalton will have more than 100 housing units, multiple hotels and expanded entertainment options. We are buying properties not only to invest, but to improve. Our goal is to trigger the ‘critical mass’ of investment that will put our downtown on the track to being competitive with Rome, Cleveland and even Chattanooga.”
They say the depot is key to their plans.
“The Dalton Depot, the literal center of the city, one of very few remaining antebellum buildings and the most iconic location in terms of Dalton’s nightlife cannot remain vacant,” they said. “We fully plan on bringing the depot back to its glory days, but it will not be a quick fix. Serious remediation will be necessary in addition to extensive marketing and prospecting to identify the correct user. It will remain a bar and restaurant facility ideally in the form of two different tenants. We have not yet had conversations with prospective users but certainly have a few recognizable names in mind.”
Barrett already owns a number of buildings in downtown Dalton, including the former Belk building at 307 S. Hamilton St., which it is developing into apartments, and the Landmark Building, which now houses the Dalton Innovation Accelerator, the city’s first business incubator.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the depot was built in 1852 by the Western & Atlantic Railroad. Most recently, it was the home for some 25 years of the Dalton Depot & Trackside Tavern restaurant. The city closed the depot in November 2015, citing conditions that “posed potential health hazards to the public,” including mold. The building has remained empty since.
“Obviously, you always want to have more options,” said council member Gary Crews. “But Barrett Properties has an excellent reputation. They are investing very much in the community, especially downtown. As we go into the details on this, I’m hopeful that this will be a nice addition to downtown.”
Mayor Dennis Mock agreed.
“I would have liked to had 100 bidders,” he said. “But we are pleased that someone is interested in the depot and interested in downtown. I’m eager to look at their plans and also to hear from the Georgia Trust.”
Photo Courtesy Dalton Daily Citizen
When season 10 of the reality show “Shark Tank” premieres on ABC next month, Dalton Middle School student Tripp Phillips will find himself front and center on the television program.
The show with Phillips pitching his product Le-Glue, a non-permanent glue that holds Legos and other building blocks together without damaging them, airs on Sunday, Oct. 7, at 10 p.m. On “Shark Tank,” entrepreneurs present their ideas to the “sharks,” celebrity investors/show hosts Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec, Daymond John and Kevin O’Leary — all millionaires or billionaires.
The contestants try to convince at least one of the hosts to invest money in their idea. If more than one host decides to invest, a bidding war over the idea begins and can increase the investment’s price.
Phillips, 12, a seventh-grader at Dalton Middle School, invented the product when he has nine.
“I was extremely excited after hearing I was selected for the show,” he said.
This isn’t his first “Shark Tank”-style experience. Phillips won first place in the inaugural PitchDIA (Dalton Innovation Accelerator) contest on May 15. The contest solicited ideas from local entrepreneurs. More than 60 companies entered the contest.
During that competition, Phillips told the judges — Piet Dossche, president of U.S Floors and executive vice president of Shaw Industries; Jamie Hamilton of Atlanta Seed Co.; Marilyn Helms, dean of the Wright School of Business at Dalton State College; and Brian Moore of BB&T Bank — that Le-Glue is already being sold online through sites such as eBay, Etsy and Amazon.
With the win, Phillips received $5,000 and became the first occupant in the Dalton Innovation Accelerator space in the Landmark Building in downtown Dalton. He also won various professional services from local firms.
A few weeks before winning the local contest, Phillips attended a “Shark Tank” casting call in Atlanta at SunTrust Park inside the Comcast building with his father Lee Phillips.
“There were about 500 people in line,” Lee Phillips said. “We pulled up our lawn chairs and waited for five hours.”
Once inside, Tripp Phillips did a 90-second presentation on the glue for producers.
“I was not nervous during the ‘Shark Tank’ pitch,” he said.
A few days later after the casting call, a producer called the Phillips family to tell them Tripp was selected to send a video pitching his product.
“The Los Angeles (California) producers watched the video and then we got another call to fly there in June to tape,” Lee Phillips said.
The entire family, including Tripp’s mother Dana and sister Allee, flew to California and went to the studio to tape. Allee and Lee appear on the show with Tripp.
“It was a little bit nerve-wracking (pitching for the hosts) but I didn’t let it affect me,” said Tripp Phillips.
For contractual reasons, the Phillips family can’t reveal the outcome of the “Shark Tank” episode.
“They (the hosts) were very kind,” Lee Phillips said. “We had an enjoyable experience and they didn’t rip him to shreds like they do other people.”
Lee Phillips said since taping the show the family has been busy “building up inventory.”
“Shark Tank” has averaged several million viewers since its debut in 2009, “so obviously we’re thinking we’ll get a big boost of sales,” Lee Phillips said.
Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce President Rob Bradham said the group is planning a watch party for the public. Bradham said having an inaugural PitchDIA winner on “Shark Tank” is a “tremendous opportunity for him and our community.”
“We’re all very excited for Tripp and the entire Phillips family,” he said.
For more information on Le-Glue, visit le-glue.com.
Photo Courtesy of Georgia Trend
The word of the day is investment,” declares Rob Bradham, president and CEO of the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce.
It’s a word you’ll find on the lips of many here in this Northwest Georgia community that straddles I-75. It reflects a growing belief that this small city and region, which was built on the innovation of carpet industry pioneers in the last century, can create a new and prosperous reality in this one.
The future and the present belong to those willing to work for it. Dalton has historically been a manufacturing town – a place where people know how to make things. So the announcement that Hanwha Q CELLS Korea would build a solar panel manufacturing plant here was good news indeed. The Korean company will produce high-performance and high-quality photovoltaic modules at the new facility, which is scheduled to open in 2019.
The new plant occupies some 800,000 square feet of land in the Carbondale Business Park. The company announced it will be hiring more than 500 workers as a result of the $150-million capital investment, according to Carl Campbell, vice president of economic development with the chamber and executive director of the Dalton-Whitfield County Joint Development Authority.
Once it’s up and running, the plant will not only be the company’s first manufacturing facility in the U.S. but also America’s largest solar module factory.
The company picked Dalton not just for its manufacturing heritage, but also recognizing that the community could get the plant up and running quickly.
“The most important piece that allowed us to start the conversation is that we had a site that was graded and ready to go and was ideal for their project,” says Campbell. “Our community preparedness was the winner.”
The graded site in the business park was part of an effort to compete for another relocation deal. That project didn’t work out, but local officials knew the site would come in handy when negotiating with companies that needed a similar location.
“That made it all work,” says Campbell. “The willingness to have a site that was ready to go and the ability to move fast won the situation.”
To sweeten the deal, the county threw in tax abatements and local incentives totaling about $15 million.
Along with the new plant, Whitfield County has celebrated the renewed vigor of the carpet and floor-covering industry. Long known as the “carpet capital of the world,” the collapse of real estate and homebuilding markets a decade ago devastated local carpet makers.
Now companies like Shaw, Mohawk and the Bob Shaw-founded Engineered Floors have been ramping up production. The industry has changed in the last 10 years. For one thing, companies took the downturn as an opportunity to improve and modernize production. That meant more high tech and fewer workers. Companies have also shifted from making traditional carpet into other floor-covering products.
Among these products is luxury vinyl flooring. These non-wood, non-ceramic plank and tile floor coverings can mimic wood and are hard to distinguish from real wood flooring, owing to innovations in design and production technology.
Local leaders have not been content to leave the future of their community to fate. The chamber is in the midst of implementing a five-year strategic plan it calls Believe Greater Dalton. The goal is to capitalize on the county’s resources and foster an improving quality of life that will draw more people to the area.
The plan grew out of a study conducted by the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government that pinpointed areas that were lacking, as well as areas that citizens wanted addressed.
The plan was jumpstarted by the discovery that 62 percent of Whitfield County workers making more than $40,000 lived somewhere other than the county. A big chunk of the local workforce was making the drive from Chattanooga or the northern Atlanta suburbs. They were also spending their wages outside the county. Getting more of them to live in Dalton would be a big shot in the arm to the local economy.
The new plan is focused on creating more reasons to move and stay here. The most tangible efforts are reflected in a greater diversity of local attractions – more retail, more restaurants. There’s a stepped-up effort to build more housing – an area in which Dalton has struggled. Putting more money into economic development to attract new business and upgrading education so there is a trained workforce for those companies are also on the agenda.
Along with these concrete initiatives, local officials want to create a strong sense of community pride. The hope is to generate more enthusiasm for home as other quality-of-life issues improve, according to Bradham.
“In the last year and a half we’ve had a tremendous amount of investment, and that mostly has taken the form of locally owned retailers and locally owned restaurants opening in downtown,” says Bradham. “The vibrancy of our downtown is already increasing.”
“We’ve been kind of enjoying an upsurge of activity in downtown for the last couple of years,” says George Woodward, interim director of the Downtown Dalton Development Authority. “I’m not sure that it was intentional. It wasn’t part of a plan. But we did see a lot more activity with more restaurants being opened up, more events taking place in downtown.”
The entertainment got a boost with the opening of Burr Park, which Mayor Dennis Mock calls “the new centerpiece of downtown Dalton.”
The park, which hosts summer concerts and other events in its amphitheater, was made possible by local resident Jeanne Burr. She donated $1 million to support the arts in Dalton by helping to provide a performance venue. In return, the city designated the former site of the Lee Printing building on Hamilton Street as a permanent park.
“It’s a gathering point for downtown Dalton, and it’s driving a lot more folks downtown. And that creates more reason to have more restaurants and more businesses downtown,” says Mock.
The downtown development authority, which once had to work hard to attract people to the area, now has something of the opposite problem.
“We’ve got plenty of events,” says Woodward. “We’ve got more restaurants. Now we need to look at parking, zoning, whether the district ought to be expanded – and if so what should the new boundaries be and why?”
Local business owners agree that downtown Dalton is enjoying a renaissance. Kasey Carpenter, who opened the Oakwood Café in 2004 and more recently launched Cherokee Brewing and Pizza Co., sees the resurgence first hand.
The Oakwood was a reclamation project of a restaurant that had been in the city from about 1946 till it closed in 2001. Its closing left a void that needed to be filled.
“When the economy is good, downtowns tend to flourish,” says Carpenter. “It gets a little bit tougher when the economy toughens up. In the next recession, you’ll see some retraction. The key is just to develop businesses that have that kind of staying power through recession.”
Right now the economy is good and getting better. So much so that the city is about to get an addition it hasn’t seen in decades – a downtown hotel. Carpenter is renovating an old bank building into what he says will be a 31-room boutique hotel.
“We’ve got a pretty good hotel market being on I-75 anyway,” says Carpenter. “So if there’s a way to funnel those people downtown, they go out and spend their money downtown, that will be a win for all of us.”
Dalton is also giving a boost to its business community with the unveiling of the Dalton Innovation Accelerator (DIA). This startup incubator is located in the historic, six-story Landmark Building on Hamilton Street. The space, which was once the Dalton Hotel, is now an office building. Here entrepreneurs with great ideas will get not only office space, but also support in the form of advice and counseling from both established business leaders and academics from local colleges.
Barrett Properties, which owns the Landmark Building, donated space for the accelerator.
To get the initiative off the ground, the city hosted its first PitchDIA contest. The winner turned out to be a middle-school-age entrepreneur – Tripp Phillips. His invention, Le-Glue, a water-soluble adhesive for Legos, took first place in the inaugural contest, winning $5,000. His company, which already sells its product on eBay, Etsy and Amazon, became the first occupant in the accelerator.
“Dalton’s story is an entrepreneurial story,” says Bradham. “Modern tufted carpet was invented here in Dalton. Then it went from a cottage industry into a multibillion industry today that is still centered around Dalton. The headquarters of the major floor-covering companies are all within a 60-mile radius of Dalton, and the vast majority of the manufacturing of carpet happens within that 60-mile radius.”
Fostering business innovation and in particular making sure local residents have access to the training they need has gotten a boost from the city’s two colleges – Dalton State College and Georgia Northwestern Technical College.
Dalton State has been renovating and expanding its campus while adding new educational programs aimed squarely at meeting the needs of business and industry. It recently added a program in logistics and supply chain management.
“That’s targeting new employment arising from the new inland port coming to nearby Murray County,” says President Margaret Venable. “Then our other newest program is health and wellness.”
This program helps graduates fill roles in many different areas, including the pharmaceutical industry, medical centers, clinics, community health centers, government health departments, fitness and wellness centers, and the health insurance industry.
“There’s a need to produce more healthcare field employees besides doctors and nurses,” says Venable. “There are so many healthcare jobs that don’t require a lot of specific training, but just require a general understanding of anatomy and physiology and health- and medical-related topics.”
A series of building projects has transformed the 50-year-old campus. These include the renovation and expansion of Gignilliat Memorial Hall to house the Wright School of Business, renovation of the Pope Student Center and construction of Peeples Hall, which houses the College’s School of Science, Technology and Mathematics.
The modernized home for the business school is designed to enhance students’ education by giving them the facility they need to learn the skills of teamwork and carrying projects through to fruition.
“We have a really strong tie to the business community,” says Marilyn Helms, dean of the Wright School of Business. “Business people tell me they need [students] to have more social skills. They know the fundamentals of business, but they have to work together.
“One of the things we worry about is we educate them deep within that major, but we don’t want them in a functional silo. We want to make them knowledgeable,” she adds. “Maybe I’m a finance major, but I also have to think about logistics and other areas at the same time. We want them work ready so they jump into their careers.”
Dalton and Whitfield County have also found that it’s increasingly attractive to visitors as well. The county’s hotel/motel tax revenue is up more than 6 percent from 2016 – the eighth year in a row tax collections have increased. There’s also a brand-new 100-key Holiday Inn Express getting ready to open along the interstate.
“That means things have been really good in the hotel world,” says Brett Huske, director of Tourism at the Dalton Convention and Visitors Bureau.
All these developments are a good indication that Dalton and Whitfield County have become places that people and businesses want to call home.
Downtown Dalton is rocking these days. It has a host of new shops and restaurants and has even captured a big-city trend – breweries and distilleries.
Chuck Butler was the first when he opened Dalton Distillery in 2015. Brewing a moonshine recipe developed by his father, master distiller Raymond Butler, he found a following among a growing number of people willing to travel for craft spirits.
A family-owned and operated distillery that started from scratch, it distills small batches of whiskey using only certified non-GMO Georgia grains. Sunflower seeds (65 percent) are added to corn mash (35 percent) and pumped through a 200-gallon state-of-the-art still to create the gluten-free spirit. It’s a recipe that’s been handed down through the Butler family for generations and honed by Raymond Butler as a way to make their libation unique.
“The main thing is that in any type of industry ... you have to find your niche,” says Chuck Butler, about their sunflower-infused spirits.
Dalton Distillery was soon followed by two craft breweries. Kasey Carpenter, who owns the venerable Oakwood Café, opened Cherokee Brewing and Pizza Co., which serves food along with its craft beer.
Dalton Brewing Co. opened earlier this year with a motto of “Good Beer Engineered.” The founders of this brewery included two engineers – industrial and electrical – and gave new life to a long-abandoned historic building downtown. (For more about the new breweries and brewpubs popping up around the state, see “Cheers!” on page 22.)
“We wanted to be a catalyst for other things to happen in downtown Dalton,” says co-owner Deanna Gray Mathis. “So we just decided this was our part. We were founded not just to make a profit but to be something cool for the community. We wanted to be a gathering place for the community.”
In fact, Carpenter welcomed the new entry to the brewing market, seeing synergy rather than competition.
“I think it’s more that we complement each other,” says Carpenter. “We do a lot more food than they do. People go over there after work and [drink] a couple of beers and then come over to our place to eat dinner and have a few more.” – Randy Southerland
Photo Courtesy Dalton Daily Citizen
DALTON, GA — Local leaders in Dalton are working to grow the city in many ways. City leaders have created a five-year strategic plan called Believe Greater Dalton.
There are six parts to the plan, and one part is creating an environment for entrepreneurship to grow in the city.
“Dalton is what it is today because of our innovation and entrepreneurship in the floor covering industry. The recession came along and hit our town hard, and we have not invested in our entrepreneurs as we should since the recession is over,” Rob Bradham, President and CEO of the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce. “That’s what the Dalton Innovation Accelerator is about.”
Rob Bradham along with local business leaders such as Barry Slaymaker have been behind the push to start more businesses in Dalton, Georgia
“The time is right for us to bring that back. The economy is good. Our community is behind improving itself at this point, and we really want to show that we are an entrepreneur friendly city and really bolster ourselves as the hub for business in Northwest Georgia,” Slaymaker said.
Barrett Properties and Inventure IT are the founders of the Dalton Innovation Accelerator or DIA. The accelerator is being built in the Landmark Building downtown.
“It will be a hub for entrepreneurs in Dalton,” Slaymaker said.
The process of finding these new businesses has already started. The DIA started an entrepreneur competition over the last several months, and the finalists will participate in a pitch night on May 15. The winner will get space in the new accelerator. These local leaders hope that projects like the DIA and the NEW Dalton Brewing Company that opened in late February will help bring more people and growth to Downtown Dalton.
10:57-11:06 Allyson Coker -Project Manager for Believe Greater Dalton
“The sky’s the limit. This is just the beginning,” Allyson Coker, project manager for Believe Greater Dalton said. “We’re just so excited that we’re gonna have a presence downtown right in the heart of Dalton for entrepreneurs.”
The pitch night event on May 15 will take place at Stage 1-23 in Dalton. It is open to the public. You can learn more on the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce’s website.
DALTON, Ga. — Doing business across the Southeast, Dalton-based Inventure IT has worked with a number of business accelerators, programs that provide startup firms with office space, mentorship and support services.
“We saw those be successful in other communities and wanted to bring that model to Dalton,” said Stacey Roach, chief operating officer of Inventure, a full-service technology company that provides services for companies and government.
He and his partners began putting together the Dalton Innovation Accelerator and soon they were joined by Advanced Insurance Strategies, Barrett Properties, Believe Greater Dalton, Dalton State College, the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce, Luna Design, the Minor Firm and the Morehouse Group.
The group is holding a contest to decide which firms will be the first to win office space and other services.
“We’ve got a website set up for people to submit their business ideas, and we will bring them in to actually pitch their ideas like in the TV show ‘Shark Tank,'” Roach said. “We are working on the judges now.”
The first place winner will get $5,000 as well as office space in the Landmark Building downtown, webhosting and technology consulting services, as well as accounting, legal and design services. There will also be prizes for second and third place.
“This is very important for Dalton,” said former mayor David Pennington. “Dalton was built on entrepreneurial energy, but I think we have lost some of that drive. I hope this will help us get some of it back.”
Barrett Properties owns the Landmark Building.
“We are excited about this contest and excited about the Dalton Innovation Accelerator, and we can think of no better home for it than downtown Dalton,” said Barry Slaymaker, head of strategy at Barrett Properties.
Marilyn Helms, dean of the Wright School of Business at Dalton State College, says she believes that DSC students will be entering the contest and have a good shot at winning it.
“Out students have a lot of great ideas. They are familiar with new technology. They have ideas for new businesses. They just need a little help. It will help us keep those students here,” she said.
Roach said that the contest is open to anyone, not just those in the Dalton area.
“They can apply online, so they can apply from anywhere. Obviously, this will give them an incentive to come to Dalton and start their business here,” he said.
To apply, go to pitchdia.com. The deadline is March 1