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Edgecombe County economy looking up

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By COREY DAVIS
Staff Writer

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Despite having the second highest unemployment rate in North Carolina, Edgecombe County expects employment figures to surge with potentially hundreds of jobs coming to the area.

Last week, Edgecombe County officials were part of an announcement that 111 jobs were coming to the county. New York-based Corning, Inc., a world leading innovator in materials science that has brought health products to the pharmaceutical market for more than 100 years, will be investing $86 million in the county to build a state-of-the-art global distribution center.

The new jobs will pay an average wage of about $33,000 a year, officials said. Eric Musser, executive vice president of Corning, said the expectation is for the distribution center to be built and fully operational by the second half of 2019. Musser said the warehouse facility will support the company’s life science vessel business.

More news of jobs and new investment coming to Edgecombe County are also on the horizon. Eric Evans, county manager of Edgecombe County, confirmed there will be another economic development announcement at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Keihin Auitorium on the Tarboro campus of Edgecombe Community College.

State officials and local economic developers said because of confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements they aren’t allowed to give any details of the proposed deal. Reports suggest that the new company could bring more than $500 million in investment and as many as 800 jobs to the 1,449-acre Kingsboro megasite, which would be the first major tenant at the site located just off U.S. 64 bypass and 10 minutes east of Interstate 95.

Evans said companies are discovering that Edgecombe County has the right recipe of land, infrastructure, a ready-to-work labor force, a quality team of economic development professionals and a board of commissioners who have made job creation a priority.

“To have more than 900 and almost 1,000 jobs coming to the county is a big thing,” Evans said. “This will be more job opportunities for families and good gainful employment, which is a difference for a family. Obviously, we’re excited about the tax base it will create, but we’re excited about the opportunity it will make for families in the county.”

In June, Lionchase Holdings Inc., a privately held asset management firm, agreed to build a more than $20 million state-of-the-art commercial cold storage facility at the Tarboro Commerce Center that will create more than 100 permanent jobs in the region. The company anticipates the start of operations by December 2018.

“Right now, they’re doing their pre-development work, and they’re still planning to build that building,” Evans said. “Within this year, including next week’s announcement, will be three pretty significant announcements we had here in the county.”

Evans added there is still ongoing conversations between state and local officials with CSX officials about the intermodal project. The construction of the $270 Carolina Connector terminal is slated to begin in early 2018 in Edgecombe County.

Reports surfaced that CSX is reassessing all of its intermodal facilities.

“Even though that article came out and they’re taking a second look at what they want to do in the county, it’s encouraging that ongoing conversations are happening,” Evans said. “It’s not like they’ve pulled the plug and backed away from the table. There is still discussions happening, and to me, there is a strong chance that CSX may still do something here in the county, if not do what they originally planned to do.”

The hub as proposed would produce 300 permanent jobs and salaries of more than $60,000.

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