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Corning warehouse starts to take shape

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Upcoming Corning facility in Edgecombe County.

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BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Staff Writer

Sunday, July 28, 2019

The future state-of-the-art Corning warehouse rapidly is taking shape along Alternate U.S. 64 at the Hartsease community in rural Edgecombe County.

Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Farris told the Telegram of the construction work at the site that, “If you blink your eyes twice, something has changed. They are really flying. That thing is coming together very quickly.”

Gov. Roy Cooper in December 2017 announced the New York-based company’s intentions to invest in Edgecombe County to build a distribution center. The same month, Cooper also announced Chinese-based Triangle Tire’s intention to build the company’s first-ever American manufacturing plant at the adjacent Kingsboro megasite.

Corning is a world-leading innovator in material science but mainly is known for glass.

Corning spokesman Joe Dunning said in an email to the Telegram that the warehouse is being built to support the company’s various businesses in the state. Dunning said this includes distributing glass pharmaceutical vials designed to resist damage in extreme events.

Dunning said construction of the warehouse started in October but that a rainy autumn and winter caused delays for a few months. Dunning said the company anticipates the warehouse will be operational by 2020.

He said the company will invest about $86 million in the facility and estimates 111 new jobs will be created at the site.

He said the company is finalizing hiring plans, including the timing for postings and advertisements.

“We will post positions to the career website and advertise locally when the time is appropriate,” he said. “We anticipate more activity in late 2019 or early 2020.”

Edgecombe County Manager Eric Evans noted when he drives to Rocky Mount, he tries to switch from his routine of always taking the expressway-like U.S. 64 to instead take Alternate U.S. 64 to get a look at the construction work.

“It’s exciting,” Evans said. “We’ve always felt like this is a great place for people to start and grow businesses. We felt like we had all the necessary ingredients to help, in particular, industrial clients be successful.”

Evans has been with Edgecombe County government for more than 17 years, having worked his way up the ranks to serve as assistant county manager before being named county manager nearly four years ago.

Of his belief in the effect of the Corning project, Evans said, “Oh, it’s huge.”

He also said there will be a promotional campaign with the line being, “Jobs are coming: Get ready.”

“And so our goal in that is to encourage as many Edgecombe County citizens to prepare themselves to be good candidates for these jobs once they start taking applications,” he said.

Just blocks from Evans’ office, Tarboro Town Manager Troy Lewis told the Telegram of the Corning project, “We’re obviously really excited about it — and are trying to put ourselves in a position to capture some of the employees to live here.

“Obviously, we hope it provides some jobs for our citizens already,” Lewis said. “But if anybody moves into the area, we want ’em to move to Tarboro.”

Lewis has been with the town since 2011, having served as planning director, public works director and interim manager before being named manager about three years ago.

“It’s been a while since we’ve had that kind of economic development project to infuse that kind of jobs and investment in this area,” he said. “So, really, it’s going to be a shot in the arm to our economy, we think.”

For the Rocky Mount area, the commitments of Corning and Triangle Tire are feathers in an economic development cap that now includes CSX’s plans to start next month building an intermodal rail facility across U.S. 301 from N.C. Wesleyan College.

Rocky Mount also has secured a state commitment to relocate the state Division of Motor Vehicles headquarters from Raleigh to the former Hardee’s headquarters at U.S. 64 and Church Street.

“We’ll have some steel and some dirt moving around here like you wouldn’t believe,” Farris said. “It’s going to be a great day in Rocky Mount and the Twin Counties.”