A little over a week ago, Scotland County was able to announce another new industry which will bring new jobs and investment. Cascades announced a new investment of $62 million with over 67 new jobs and the transfer of another 60 jobs from its Richmond County location. The company has purchased the entire WestPoint Home property and plans to revitalize and renovate the buildings to meet their needs. This is truly wonderful news for the citizens of Scotland County as Cascades will have much higher than average wages and is a company that treats its employees well.
This announcement brings us to a total of just over $195 million dollars in new investment with an additional 500 jobs announced since 2009. We have been able to announce a new industry expansion or location each year for the past six years. This type of economic development success is unprecedented over the last 30 years and is a considerable achievement due to the amount of competition that exists in today’s world of economic development. It is harder and harder each year for rural counties to bring new investment and jobs through the practice of recruiting companies to locate within the county boundaries. Many counties in our region continue to struggle and it is with good reason. There are approximately 15,000 Economic Development Organizations or EDO’s that are working to attract somewhere around 1,200 projects to locate in their respective regions.
Without the assistance of many partners and a great deal of effort on the part of the Scotland County Board of Commissioners, this Cascades project might not have ended so well for us. We were originally eliminated during the site selection process in late 2013 only to be put back into consideration in January 2014. Until two weeks before the announcement, we were still in competition with another state that wanted the project just as much as we did.
I think that it is important to express appreciation for all partners involved in this project such as the State of North Carolina, Scotland County, the City of Laurinburg, the Scotland County Economic Development Corporation, the Laurinburg Maxton Airport Commission, Richmond Community College, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, the Laurinburg/Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce and several existing industries as Cascades met with different Human Resource Managers in our county. Some of these partners were involved directly as appropriate, while others were in the peripheral as support but just as important in the process as they all help to create an environment for success in our community. Each of those entities listed work daily within their mission to create a better Scotland County. Equally important though is the role each citizen plays in the community as we all work together in order to make Scotland County a community of choice.
Going forward it is necessary for us all to have realistic expectations of success in economic development in Scotland County. There is great reason for hope but it takes all of us working together to Target Laurinburg and Scotland County. That is the only way we will see continued success and opportunities for the citizens of our County.
Greg Icard is director of Economic Development for Scotland County and president of the Scotland County Economic Development Corporation.