TIFTON - Turner Furniture is building a 50,000-square-foot distribution center in Tifton and expects to open the $2.5 million facility in October, the owners announced Tuesday.

The center, already under construction on an 11-acre site on Oak Ridge Church Road, will employ about 40 people.

Members of the Turner family, owners of Turner's Fine Furniture and Turner's Budget Outlet stores in Tifton, Moultrie, Albany, Valdosta, Thomasville and Tallahassee, Fla., made the announcement at the Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce.

"I moved to Tifton in 1961, right out of college," said M. Wright Turner III. "Our children were born here, and I'm glad that we can kind of come back home with this.

"...This community has been tremendously beneficial to us, and we want to thank you for letting us expand here and thank you for all this community has meant to us in the past."

Turner Furniture began as a hardware business in 1915 in Pelham and has since expanded into a network of stores across South Georgia and North Florida. The fourth generation of the Turner family is now involved in its management.

The distribution center will also house Turner Furniture's corporate offices and could be expanded to up to three times its original size, said Fortson Turner, who operates the Tifton stores.

"This facility will allow us to effectively manage inventory, continue timely deliveries to our stores and customers and will enable us to continue our growth," Fortson Turner said.

Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce Chairman Bill Richardson said the announcement was the culmination of years of work "by a lot of people," including the chamber, the Tift County Development Authority, OneGeorgia Authority, Georgia Power Co. and Colquitt EMC.

Speaking on behalf of the development authority, Mayor Paul Johnson said Tifton is "quickly becoming known across the Southeast as a warehousing and distribution center."

Warehouse expansions are currently under way at Orgill, a hardware manufacturer, and at the Target Distribution Center. A new distribution center for a carpet manufacturer, Aladdin, is also under construction.

To contact city editor Florence Rankin, call 382-4321, ext. 209.

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