BUFORD, Ga. (AP) — Shoe manufacturer Okabashi said Thursday that it will hire 250 workers and invest $20 million to double production at its headquarters in suburban Atlanta.
Sara Irvani, the CEO of privately held Okabashi, said in an email that the company will be able to make more than 2 million pairs of shoes annually at its Buford factory once the expansion is complete in five years. Okabashi, one of the few companies to mass-produce shoes in the United States, focuses on sandals made in part from recycled materials.
“Okabashi’s mission is to champion sustainably Made in USA footwear, and the importance of local manufacturing and sustainability has never been more clear,” Irvani wrote. She cited Georgia's advantages in logistics and recruiting talent as reasons to expand in the state.
The company currently has 250 employees in Georgia. Production workers start at $16 an hour and the company plans to hire 100 workers this summer.
The state will help train workers through its Quick Start program, said Amber Kasselman, a spokesperson for the Partnership Gwinnett economic development agency. Okabaski could claim various tax breaks, including an income tax credit that would allow it to deduct more than $1.5 million from state income taxes over five years, as long as workers make at least $30,628 a year.
Irvani said the company won't seek property tax abatements from Gwinnett County or Buford.
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