1969 Interstate 85 Makes its Mark on Region
The August 1964 issue of Jemco News featured a photograph showing a section of interstate highway under construction just south of Commerce. The caption read: "History will almost with certainty report that Interstate-85 was one of the great stimulating forces which helped to spark the phenomenal industrial growth of our area."
Almost fifty years later, the completion of Interstate‑85 in the 1960s stands as the single greatest igniter of the astounding growth that consumed northeast Georgia into the twenty-first century.
Building the four-lane interstate through Atlanta to Greenville, South Carolina, was part of a massive nationwide project begun in 1956 with passage of the Federal Aid Highway Act. The Act authorized $25 billion to build 41,000 miles of an interstate highway system to provide interconnectivity throughout the nation. At the time, it was the largest public works project ever undertaken in America.
Truck stops were a novelty spawned by the new interstate system that brought eighteen-wheelers through before-uncharted territory. The Pure Oil Company Truck Stop at the Pleasant Hill exit off I‑85 in Gwinnett County opened in 1968 to offer truckers a one-stop shop where they could sleep and eat while their vehicles were serviced; Jackson EMC proudly announced the new business was a total-electric member. One year later, in 1969, Jackson EMC linemen would string wires across the Interstate near Beaver Ruin Road to serve the under-construction Interstate Industrial Park.
By 1970, Interstate Industrial Park consisted of 164 acres of prime property along I‑85 at Beaver Ruin Road inviting manufacturers to set up shop; Panasonic Corporation, J.I. Case Tractor, Adcom Metals and Johnson Motor Lines became tenants and in turn, received their electricity from Jackson EMC.