FCC growth propels past expectations

Abbi Overfelt Editor

December 11, 2013

LAURINBURG — With a public hearing at next week’s City Council meeting, the city of Laurinburg will take the next step in welcoming into the city limits a manufacturer that has, with recent expansion, grown to make what Scotland County’s economic developer calls the “largest single investment in the history of the county.”

Construction of FCC North Carolina LLC, a manufacturer of all-terrain vehicle components, has far surpassed the $80 million estimated in the initial announcement, made in August, of the corporation’s plans to build its newest location in Scotland County, Greg Icard said. That number is now closer to $100 million, Icard said, and the original estimate of 66 new jobs has spiked to 300.

“One hundred million doesn’t come along very often in a rural county,” Icard said.

Voluntary annexation of the manufacturing plant will not only add jobs but will boost the city’s tax base, allowing for the creation of a larger budget as well as showing growth. The land, at $12 to $15 per acre, is not in itself a large acquisition, but the construction and addition of expensive equipment is “much, much more significant,” Icard said. It’s an addition that in years to come, will offset the depreciation of other investments made by businesses and manufacturers.

“You’re always fighting a battle on that end,” Icard said. “You want to make sure that your businesses are continuing to make investments … . People focus on job creation, which is very important, but growth in your tax base is equally important.”

The city will also pad its coffers by supplying the building with electricity and water and sewer. Icard said according to Progress Energy, FCC will be one of the biggest power-eaters in the county.

“I know it’s going to have a very, very significant impact on city’s operations,” Icard said.

FCC will also benefit from lower rates.

Estimates on what the city could reap were unavailable Wednesday. Cindy Carpenter, the city’s finance director, said not all contracts have been finalized.

The annexation also includes the Small Business Innovation Center, located next to the FCC construction on U.S. 401, and a small pump station for a total of 23.19 acres.

The company has set a completion date of late February or early March of 2014, Icard said, to meet a company-mandated schedule of tests that must be performed with the new equipment before full manufacturing can begin.

Icard said he and others who work in economic development take pride in knowing they played a part in bringing the plant to Scotland County.

“When you talk about how many jobs are created in the investment, that translates into someone’s family, someone’s mother, or their father, brother, sister, whoever it might be, getting a job, and that affects three to four more people in that family,” he said.

“There’s people that are attached to these things, there are real people getting jobs and that impacts people’s lives.”