By Paula Walter
Concrete was poured this past week at the spec building in the Doe Valley area of Johnson County. STARLED, Inc. is about to begin operations in Johnson County. Mayor Larry Potter had been actively looking for businesses to come to Johnson County and utilize the large spec building that had been empty for years.
According to Garry Garoni, chairman of STARLED, approximately 20,000 square feet of concrete was poured last week and it is expected another 30,000 additional feet will also be laid. The endeavor began at midnight last Tuesday and work went on well into the early hours of the morning.
Cinderblock has also been laid on the outside of the building as offices and a show room will be added onto the facility. Currently, bathrooms and a training room are in the process of being built inside the facility. “It’s all happening,” Garoni stated. STARLED is anticipating an opening in early April. “It’s all coming together,” he added.
STARLED manufactures and distributes light emitting diode (LED) lighting products for both commercial and residential space, as well as marine and automotive use. The company provides energy efficient products that are also environmentally safe. LED lights are energy saving as they use 90 percent less energy than ordinary light bulbs. They last 25 times longer than standard bulbs, and offer better lighting. LED products are a cost effective way of saving energy. The amount of savings depends on the space to be lighted. A LED bulb reaches a temperature of 90 degrees, a dramatic drop from a standard light bulb at 400 degrees. The company guarantees its products for five years.
STARLED has been in business for more than 10 years with offices around the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Southeast Asia. They are currently manufacturing in China and now they are preparing for operations to begin in Mountain City. Johnson County is in a prime location in the country as STARLED has warehouse districts in Charlotte, North Carolina, Atlanta, Georgia, as well as Minnesota.
An economic fast track grant of $275,000 was available to help cover some of the costs of preparing the building to start production of the LED products. STARLED has a long-term lease of 20 years, along with an option to buy. “This is a big commitment to our county,” Potter previously stated. “We appreciate Mr. Garoni entering into a long-term partnership with Johnson County.”
At this time, two employees have already been hired It is expected that there will be 10 employees needed to get the business off the ground, but it is anticipated that there will be 50 jobs in the Johnson County location in the first year. After finding a senior manager to begin operations, a team of people will be built from there, including senior management, assembly workers as well as a warehouse manager.