Pratt Industries plans a $120M box factory in Georgia, with the Australian-owned firm hiring 125

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. (AP) — A paper and box company will build a $120 million box factory in middle Georgia, with plans to hire more than 125 workers.

Pratt Industries, a private company owned by an Australian billionaire, announced Thursday that it would build the plant in Warner Robins, with plans to begin turning out boxes by late 2024.

Pratt already has nearly 2,000 workers at 12 sites in Georgia, anchored by a paper mill in Conyers and its headquarters in the Atlanta suburb of Brookhaven. It says the new plant will bring its total investment in Georgia to more than $800 million. The company says the cardboard for the boxes made in Warner Robins will mostly come from Conyers.

The factory is projected to be nearly 500,000 square feet (46,000 square meters.) Warner Robins Mayor LaRhonda W. Patrick said it’s the biggest private investment in the city’s history.

Pratt uses recycled paper and boxes as a raw material, grinding it up and dissolving it back into watery pulp, then making new cardboard. The company is owned by Australia’s Anthony Pratt, considered by some to be that country’s richest man. Pratt and his relatives also own Australia's Visy Industries, a sister company.

Anthony Pratt got his start in the United States in 1991 managing a money-losing paper mill in Macon that the company sold. But Pratt Industries has grown to 71 sites in 25 states, and now says it's the fifth-largest U.S. maker of corrugated packaging.

Pratt Industries says it’s the largest Australian-owned employer of Americans, and says it’s investing $5 billion in U.S. facilities over 10 years. The company is finishing a new $400 million paper mill in Henderson, Kentucky, its sixth in the United States.

Pratt has emphasized making boxes using less material, making boxes specialized for customer needs and making small batches of custom-printed boxes.

The company could qualify for $2.5 million in state income tax credits, at $4,000 per job over five years, as long as workers make at least $31,300 a year. The company could qualify for other incentives, including property tax breaks from Warner Robins and Peach County.