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April 22--  The newest industry to locate in Toombs County is in the final stages of plant preparation at the Toombs Corporte Center on Highway One north of Lyons.

U.S. Pet is co-locating in the same building with Chicken of the Sea, its sister company under the corporate umbrella of Thai Union.  The corporation already operates four pet food plants in Asia, but this is its first pet food plant in the U.S.

Among other inducements from the Toombs County Development Authority, the company is applying for a $500,000 economic development grant from the state of Georgia in return for a $25 million capital investment and a promise of 150 jobs within four years.

{mosimage}General manager John Phelps told the Vidalia Rotary Club the company is beginning to recruit locally. "Our main way of looking for good people is to have recommendations from good people.  If somebody knows somebody they can really recommend in terms of intelligence, motivation and working well on a team, that's our primary way we're going to recruit.  In terms of the scope of the jobs, we expect to have about 100 people when the plant is fully operational.  That may take a couple of years or three or four years as we build up the business, but from 100 to 150 is our goal."

Phelps says many of the U.S. Pet products will be prepared for other pet food companies and others who are looking for high quality speciality pet food.

"U.S. Pet is not trying to be the cheapest, but to be the best.  Most of our customers will be ranging from a veterinarian who wants to deal with food allergies or somebody who has an elderly dog who has a digestive issue, those are all the things we specialize in.  We have built our factory around quality and animals who have difficulties," Phelps says.

Another spinoff benefit from U.S. Pet  is the plant's intention to buy many of its raw materals locally including meats and vegetables.