Standing 17 stories tall, the new Columbia Farms chicken feed mill is the tallest building in Madison County.
The $23 mln plant, which opened this month, will produce 8,000 t of feed for Northeast Georgia chicken farmers in the Columbia Farms fold, said complex manager Barry Cronic.
"The feed goes directly from here to our poultry farms," Cronic said. "Our long-term goal is to fill this place up with our own needs, and this place could do 10,000 t of feed a week. So, we've got some room to grow."
Madison County officials hope farmers who supplied Pilgrim's Pride - which closed an Athens processing plant Friday - might strike a deal with Columbia Farms.
"(The closing) affects our growers mostly," White said. "We're hoping that Columbia Farms will pick some of them up."
Columbia Farms, a division of the North Carolina-based House of Raeford, is moving its feed operations to Madison County from Lavonia.
But the new location on Georgia Highway 72 just east of Comer made perfect sense for the feed mill, says Ken Qualls, vice president of finance, especially because of its direct access to the passing railway.
"Our feed mill was getting old and needed a lot of work, and we needed better access to the rail lines," he said. "That's one key thing for a feed mill because most of your corn and soybeans come on railroad lines."