Long effort pays off for megasite


Staff Writer

Monday, December 25, 2017

The recent milestone announcement of Chinese tire manufacturer Triangle Tire Co. bringing 800 jobs and nearly $580 million in investment to the Kingsboro megasite was the accomplishment of years of development and recruitment efforts by local officials and economic developers to finally land a major firm at the 1,449-acre site that was created to lure a large manufacturer to Edgecombe County.

“It’s great to believe in something for so long and be committed to it,” Edgecombe County Manager Eric Evans said. “I’m very happy for our (Edgecombe County) board of commissioners and a number of them have been on the board for a long time. This was a 20-or-more year process that started from someone having an idea of saying here is some land right here that’s well drained by the U.S. 64 bypass and has great access.”

The Kingsboro megasite is one of four strategically-located megasites in North Carolina. The advanced manufacturing site in Eastern North Carolina was the first megasite in the state to receive CSX Select Site designation, which meant land use issues were addressed and the site was ready for development.

National corporate site selecton companies such as The Boyd Company ran by John Boyd said Kingsboro had long been viewed by site selection consultants as one of the premiere sites for advanced manufacturing in the Southeast because of its highway access with intermodal rail. Carolinas Gateway Partnership strategically marketed the large site as being off the busy highway of U.S. 64 and near Interstate 95.

The other attractive features that the Partnership used in recruiting pitches to potential industry officials like Triangle Tire was Kingsboro being only an hour away from the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, 30 minutes away from the Pitt-Greenville general aviation airport and between the busy ports of Norfolk and Wilmington.

Despite the site’s appeal for economic development, Boyd said, the Kingsboro megasite had typically been known as more of a bridesmaid than a bride. Evans said in the past, Kingsboro had been on the short list of some major companies in the country and internationally.

He added a few years ago Volvo had expressed strong interest in building an automotive facility at Kingsboro and before he came on board as the county manager a deal with Gatorade to build a plant was close to happening.

“It was a little discouraging to see other areas land jobs and we didn’t,” Evans said. “It’s hard when you get your hopes up thinking this was going to be the one and then to be let down on several occasions. It was a tough pill to swallow. It could’ve been to the point where we said let’s forget it and not worry about it and concentrate on something else. But we always believed we saw the value in this site and one day someone is going to see it.”

Just in the case of Bridgestone Firestone, which has been a longtime manufacturer in Wilson, Evans sees Triangle Tire having a long-lasting impact in Edgecombe County. The Edgecombe County operation is expected to pay an average wage of $56,450, which is well above the average wage of $32,642 in the county.

“When you look at Bridgestone Firestone, that plant was built in the 1970s and it has been fully operational since it was first built and the employees make good wages,” Evans said. “I pastor a church in Halifax County, and I have a member that has been there for 25 years. To have a company that is that stable, employ that many people, pay that type of wage and is there for a the long term, that’s what we can expect out of Triangle Tire Co. Having salaries close to $60,000 a year, that’s a liveable wage where a person can own a home, buy a car and send their kids off to college and have a good life for themselves. That’s the transformation a company like this is going to be.”