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Thursday, May 2, 2013 - 12:23pm

More Homes Mean More Carpet

A budding housing recovery is behind a Dalton carpet-maker’s plans to create 2,000 new jobs. Industry experts say more job announcements could follow.

Engineered Floors will build new plants in northwest Georgia’s Whitfield and Murray Counties. And the news comes as builders construct more homes, and older houses sell for more money.

A stronger U.S. housing market means more sales for the carpet and flooring industries that serve it.

Kathryn Thompson is with Thompson Research Group in Nashville. She says carpet-makers will be adding jobs. But not all of them will be in the U.S.

“Granted there will be some jobs that just won’t come back," she said an interview. "What we’re seeing more from manufacturers in general is setting up manufacturing in the country where the demand originates. So in other words, you have a plant in Russia to meet Russian demand. You have a plant in China to meet Chinese demand. You have a plant in the U.S. to meet U.S. demand.”

That means Georgia carpet companies may not benefit as much from high demand overseas.

Nonetheless, the new jobs will help the area’s 10 percent jobless rate. The Dalton area has lost 13,000 jobs since the recession began. Last year, it lost more jobs in a 12-month period than any other major area in the U.S.

And Thompson says she’s seeing signs consumers are confident in the economy and its recovery.

“What you’re seeing now, and what hasn't been going on in the cycle is consistently gaining pricing in a market," she said. "And to my mind that’s one of the most important things you can see in a recovery.”

It means carpet-makers are asking and getting more money for their products.

Georgia elected officials cooed over the announcement, crediting the state's pro-business climate.

"The story of Engineered Floors is the story of a Georgia-grown company's continued commitment to, and investment in, northwest Georgia," said Deal. "Georgia provides the business environment, workforce training and unparalleled logistics infrastructure to fuel growth for the floor-covering industry, which has been a cornerstone of the state's economy."

Robert E. Shaw, chief executive officer of Engineered Floors, credits tax breaks.

“The exemption of sales tax on energy in the manufacturing process that the legislature put in place under Gov. Deal’s leadership during the 2012 legislative session makes a significant difference to manufacturers looking to grow and succeed,” he said.

Georgia's carpet and rug mill manufacturing jobs represent 70 percent of the nation's total, state officials said.