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The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon lands 600 jobs in $418M industry expansion

First Quality Baby Products plans to increase diaper manufacturing capacity by 50% with new production lines on Avondale Mill Road
Liz Fabian
First Quality Baby Products plans to add 600 jobs in a $418 million expansion of its plant on Avondale Mill Road.

Earth movers are making way for a major expansion that will bring 600 new jobs to First Quality Baby Products near Middle Georgia Regional Airport. 

Thursday, Gov. Brian Kemp announced the $418 million investment that he attributed to the state’s “consistent and reliable business-friendly environment.” 

Allen Bodford, President of First Quality’s Absorbent Hygiene Division, said the new building adjacent to 2108 Avondale Mill Road will increase the company’s baby diaper and training pant manufacturing capacity by 50%.

The company’s application for an air quality permit from Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division indicated the company plans to add eight production lines and two reclamation lines.  

First Quality already employs more than 580 people working in more than a million square feet of space in Macon, according to its website.

“This expansion is a testament to First Quality’s innovative products and continuing commitment to the baby diaper market,” Bodford said in the release. “We also express our deep appreciation to our dedicated team in Macon for their tireless devotion to First Quality.” 

The company plans to hire executive, administrative, supervisory and production positions that eventually will be posted on its website,

Bodford credited Kemp, the Georgia Department of Economic Development and the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority for their continued support. 

The governor said more than 70% of Georgia’s economic development projects last year involved existing companies investing in expansions. 

“That’s a testament to the long-term partnerships we build that continue to pay dividends for communities in every corner of the state,” Kemp stated in the release. 

The Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority owns a nearly 110-acre parcel adjacent to the current First Quality Plant, which is on about 70 acres. (Liz Fabian)

Locally, recent expansions at Coca-Cola, Nichiha and YKK AP retained 525 jobs, according to the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority.

The Authority, recent mayors, governors and state economic development leaders have worked closely with First Quality since 2008 when the company bought the old Tyco/Covidien health and medical supply factory on Industrial Highway.

At the time, the Covidien plant was Georgia’s first manufacturer to have a certified Work Ready workforce after more than 350 hourly employees successfully completed a state-sponsored skills assessment. 

Two years later, First Quality began building a new $35 million 800,000-square-foot building south of the airport as part of a $200 million, 8-year investment to create a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. That expansion added 150 jobs and saved about 220 existing positions that would have been lost if another state was chosen instead, according to Telegraph archives.

In 2015, First Quality invested another $68 million renovating the 314,000-square-foot plant on Industrial Highway for its Packaging Solutions operation. 

First Quality subsidiaries manufacture infant and adult diapers, feminine hygiene products, bath tissue, paper towels and packaging supplies.

Dublin Construction Group has begun clearing land for the expansion of the First Quality Baby Products plant on Avondale Mill Road. (Liz Fabian)

Macon’s current diaper plant is on about 70 acres in the Industrial Authority’s Airport South Industrial Park, which has another 109-acre tract for the expansion next to the current plant.  

Dublin Construction Company is already preparing the site.

Authority Chairman Robby Fountain said the company’s latest investment emphasizes Macon-Bibb County’s strong local business environment. 

“This expansion highlights the confidence that businesses have in our community as a place to invest and thrive. We are excited about the opportunities this expansion brings and remain dedicated to supporting First Quality’s continued growth and success,” Fountain said in the release. 

Fresh off Tuesday’s re-election victory, Macon-Bibb County Mayor Lester Miller said not only is Georgia the best state to do business in, but Macon-Bibb is Georgia’s best county for business. 

“First Quality has been a strong community partner in Macon-Bibb County for many years,” Miller said in the release. “We are proud that they have chosen to solidify their presence and demonstrate their continued commitment by not only securing hundreds of existing jobs, but also creating hundreds of new jobs and investing millions of dollars in new infrastructure.”

The Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Global Commerce division partnered with the Industrial Authority and Georgia Power to secure the project along with Georgia Quick Start, a workforce training program through the state’s technical colleges to customize teaching of job-specific skills for qualifying companies. 

No timeline for completion of construction was mentioned in the release.

Civic Journalism Senior Fellow Liz Fabian covers Macon-Bibb County government entities and can be reached at [email protected] or 478-301-2976.

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