Some of Douglas County’s prominent leaders came together Monday night to watch as the Board of Education voted unanimously to purchase the GreyStone Power headquarters. The school system will relocate its central office to the new location next year.

GreyStone President and CEO Gary Miller, longtime local banker and GreyStone board member Billy Mayhew, Douglas County Economic Development Authority Executive Director Chris Pumphrey and Douglas County Chamber President and CEO Sara Ray all spoke in favor of the move just before the vote.

The BOE agreed to pay GreyStone $12.5 million via a 15-year lease-purchase deal for its facilities on Veterans Memorial Highway in the Beulah community between Douglasville and Lithia Springs. GreyStone is building a new headquarters campus in Paulding County, which Miller said the cooperative plans to be in by early 2021.

Miller told the school board that in addition to a roughly 83,000-square-foot administration building, the school system is also getting a 70,000-square-foot warehouse and a 42,000-square-foot vehicle repair shop.

“It was clear the school system, with the buses, the shop, the things that they need, that this was an absolute perfect fit,” Miller said. “And we’ve been very good corporate citizens, I think, in Douglas County. We did have a sincere desire to see that who succeeded us in that building would be a positive influence on the county. And the school system is certainly that. It’s something we are extremely excited about.”

Mayhew echoed the comments of others in calling it a “win-win situation.” He said that the BOE’s current central office at 9035 Highway 5 next to Hunter Park was originally built in the 1970s as a manufacturing warehouse for a Japanese company.

The school board bought the building in 1986 and converted the warehouse space to offices.

Superintendent Trent North said 150 employees currently work at the current central office, which only has eight offices with windows and has had ongoing HVAC issues as the space was divided to accommodate growth of the school system.

“While it has served the Douglas County community and the faculty and staff well for 34 years, with COVID on the rise it’s important from a ventilation perspective that is beneficial to all of our employees,” North told the school board.

Pumphrey, whose job is to bring industry to the county to help the tax base, said the move ensures GreyStone’s facilities don’t go vacant and “become a sore spot for that corridor.” And he said the school system moving into a nicer facility “speaks to the expectations of excellence” in education and to “prospective investors in the county.”

Ray said the school system moving its central office to the GreyStone headquarters will help “communicate the standard of high quality education in our community” and “set the caliber for other businesses.”

Miller said after Monday’s meeting GreyStone hopes to be in its new Paulding headquarters by the end of January, with the cooperative’s IT Department having to come back to the Douglasville facility in February for some last-minute work.

“We hope to be able to turn it over to the school system end of February-early March kind of time frame,” Miller said. “So pretty quick.”

The school system plans to raze the current central office after it moves next year and build an arena capable of holding graduations on the site using ESPLOST funds.

North said the arena is anticipated to be able to hold 5,000-6,000 people. And he pointed out it’s in a good location just three miles from Interstate 20, 17 miles from the Atlanta airport and 20 miles from downtown Atlanta.

“It’s not just going to benefit the Douglas County School System, it’s going to benefit our hotel and motel industry, it’s going to benefit our food and service industries,” North said. “In addition to that, as a school system we’ll have graduations and indoor activities as well. So we’re excited.”