Expanding Companies in Smithfield, NC
PHOTO CREDIT: Todd Bennett
When proactive leadership, a strategic location and a skilled workforce are combined, economic magic can happen.
That has certainly been the case in Johnston County, which has pulled several big rabbits out of its proverbial hat during the past two years.
From the November 2011 opening of the $25.4 million Northeast Rolls of North Carolina facility in Clayton to the $268 million expansion of Grifols Inc. (formerly Talecris), Johnston County is seeing explosive growth, with payrolls to match.
New Companies, Big Expansions
Northeast Rolls’ Clayton plant, the country’s largest hamburger bun supplier for McDonald's, employs 84 workers at an average wage of $42,000 at its 80,000 square-foot facility.
Grifols, the third-largest manufacturer of medicine from plasma, will provide 259 new jobs with its 160,000-square-foot expansion of the Clayton blood fractionation facility, thus allowing a 43 percent increase over its current plasma processing capacity.
Becton, Dickenson and Company, an international pharmaceutical conglomerate with research facilities in the nearby Research Triangle Park, has invested $38 million in a 750,000 square-foot, LEED-certified distribution facility located in Four Oaks, where 190 people will be hired over the course of the next few years. And Caterpillar recently announced 199 new jobs at its plant in western Johnston County.
“The county is an excellent location for industry,” says Peggy Anderson, director of the Johnston County Economic Development Commission. “With two major interstates serving our communities, access to two ports, rail service, our proximity to the Research Triangle Park, a highly skilled and available workforce and the strong leadership that guides our economic and community development efforts, we have been extremely successful in weathering the economic downturn and seeing companies continue to locate and expand here.”
Ready for Fast-Track Projects
The county offers several certified shovel-ready sites along the I-95 corridor, meaning that environmental assessments, surveys and geotechnical studies have been completed. “We know the soil quality, how many buildable acres and what percentage of wetlands a site might contain,” Anderson says. “So many projects today are fast-tracked, and this puts us in the lead position when it comes to successfully recruiting multimillion dollar investments and new jobs into Johnston County.”
Anderson says that one of the county’s strongest assets is its proximity to a university system that includes the University of North Carolina, Duke University, North Carolina State University and East Carolina University, which play a huge role in the recruitment of new pharmaceutical jobs.
The county has its own incentive fund pool that may be offered to qualifying companies, and local leaders work in cooperation with regional and state officials in securing additional grants that help seal the deal when new companies come calling. These grants are used to fund water, sewer and road infrastructure.
Leadership played a big factor when Ergonomic Concepts, a manufacturer of ergonomic office furniture, selected Johnston County as its home. “Selma city officials and the Johnston County Economic Development Authority have been extremely helpful,” says company owner Brian Frazier. “Their sensitivity to my needs as an employer in Johnston County exemplifies their commitment to be a proactive partner in the business community, and I would highly recommend any company looking to relocate to consider the Smithfield-Selma area.”
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