A number of business developments in Edgecombe County in 2019 continue to give credence to speculation the county’s economic and employment situation is headed in the right direction.

While the initial announcement of two industries — Corning and Triangle Tire — coming to Edgecombe County was made in December 2017, steady work on the Corning facility as well as basic construction on the entrance into what now is being marketed as the Kingsboro Business Park kept people excited.

Carolinas Gateway Partnership President and CEO Norris Tolson explained the move.

“As we talked with prospects about a variety of options, it became clear that what Kingsboro is heading toward is a multi-use development,” Tolson said. “So we’ve started marketing it as the Kingsboro Business Park.”

Tolson said in addition to solid industrial prospects, such as the steel cable supplier for Triangle Tire, other non-industrial prospects are emerging.

“We reserved 20 acres at the Kingsboro exit for a travel plaza-type operation and we’ve gotten strong interest in that location,” he said.

Tolson said that as he and Gateways Vice President Oppie Jordan have talked with prospects, they have told them they wanted them to think outside the box as they developed their proposals.

“We’ve seen some interesting concepts,” Tolson said.

Tolson said there also has been interest from lodging chains and that two sites have been identified — one a traveler-type facility nearer to the Kingsboro exit and the second a suites-type facility nearer U.S. 64 Alt. between Corning and Triangle.

“We’ve also had interest from multi-use developers as well as developers talking about building apartments and condos,” he said.

Tolson said the housing interest is vital.

“Currently, we have something less than 400 units (available) in Edgecombe and Nash counties and we’re already behind,” he said. “We have one developer who has asked about land west of Kingsboro and is talking about building houses that would serve that (manufacturing employee) market ... 1,500 to 2,000 square feet.

“We also are encouraged that a couple of people are looking at (two- and three-bedroom) apartment complexes and garden duplexes (nearer to Corning),” he said.

Out on the northeast side of Rocky Mount, CSX began work in earnest on its Carolina Connector, located near N.C. Wesleyan College.

The lynchpin of the new project is a traditional intermodal campus where containers are brought to a rail yard and then transferred from truck to train.

The Carolina Connector is expected to open in 2020.

In Tarboro, town officials authorized the building of a 65,000-square-foot building to be built on speculation in the Tarboro Commerce Center. The developer was expected to close on the deal by year’s end with construction starting shortly thereafter.

Town officials authorized the project so as to be ahead of the curve when expected ancillary industry arrives in town in support of Triangle Tire and Corning.

Likewise, town officials established a program to help developers with the cost of infrastructure in order to help encourage the building of new subdivisions to help alleviate a housing shortage, again in anticipation of persons who might decide to locate in the Tarboro area because of the newly created jobs.

Also in Tarboro, Tarboro Savings Bank announced the construction of a new two-story building on its site in downtown Tarboro. In the meantime, Tarboro Savings is in a temporary location on North Main Street.

Henderson-based Variety Wholesalers closed their Maxway store in downtown when it announced the opening of a Roses in a portion of the former Belk Department Store in Riverside Plaza.

The former Maxway was empty for only a short period of time when it was announced that Tarboro Clearance Center would move from 2217 St. Andrew St. into the downtown slot.

Also during 2019, Ginger’s moved from the old Church Street Hotel to 409 Main St. while Off the Main also moved from Church Street to Main Street.

Humble Knuckles Tap & Deli, featuring fresh deli sandwiches and a variety of drinks, opened near the end of the summer, becoming the second new sandwich shop in town in 2019, after Whichwich opened in February in the new EP Mart.

Also in 2019, one drug store closed and another opened as Rite Aid shut its doors and Roanoke Rapids-based Drugco opened in the former Popeyes on North Main after extensive cleaning and remodeling.

That was not all the activity on North Main, however, as Joe and Sheila Anderson remodeled a building at the corner of Hope Lodge and Main to open Anderson Flower Co., managed by their daughter, Kaitlyn.

And on Western Boulevard, a new Arby’s is just weeks away from opening while a new Duck-N-Go is weeks away as well in Pinetops on the site formerly occupied by Hardee’s.

Tarboro still is hoping to reap additional benefits from a Downtown Tarboro Investment Showcase held Sept. 16.

Thus far, one of 11 properties that were shown to investors has sold and discussions are underway on several others.

Edgecombe Community College completed its Center for Innovation on the Tarboro campus to serve as a training facility for people seeking jobs at the new businesses and site work was completed at Harts Mill Run Road on old U.S. 64, where a training facility will be built for nearby firms.