After months of project planning and negotiations, FCC is set to break ground this morning on a 160,000-square-foot paper processing plant off US-401, and in doing so become the Small Business Innovation Center’s first industrial neighbor.
“We’re looking at about $41 million being invested at the paper plant … and they’re going to be close to $80 million in investment total and a minimum of 66 jobs,” said Greg Icard, county economic developer.
FCC had initially planned to locate its paper plant, which operates under highly secretive conditions because of the techniques and technology involved, in the county’s shell building. A ground breaking was held for that project about nine months ago.
According to Icard, an increase in demand for FCC’s products “necessitated them increasing the scope of the project.”
As a manufacturer of transmission clutches, FCC’s manufacturing process includes several stages.
A number of those stages are completed at the 143,000-square-foot Laurinburg clutch plant on Fieldcrest Road near Laurel Hill, which employs 145 in the “numerous manufacturing processes which include the assembly of clutches, ATVs and the segmented friction process.”
Icard said that the paper processing operation that will set up shop off US-401 is integral to nearly all of the clutch parts the company manufacturers. “It’s the friction paper used in those transmissions and that paper is vital to their business.”
Several months after announcing that FCC would be moving into the shell building, Icard said that he learned that the company may need more than building (and the land surrounding it) could offer.
“The shell building wasn’t large enough, it didn’t have enough property for them and didn’t have the infrastructure for their increased need,” Icard said.
One of those increased infrastructure needs was the demand for water.
“It’s a large amount (of water) that they need, but it’s doable. The county and city have been working diligently on every facet of this project to make sure we get it done in a timely manner to meet their needs,” Icard said.
Because of their motivation to meet market demand, Icard said that FCC has placed the paper plant construction project on the fast track.
“They’re going to break ground (today) and they want to be operational by March of next year,” Icard said.
As one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Small Business Innovation Center, Icard said that FCC’s commitment to the site has served as a validation of the project, which brought together the city of Laurinburg, Scotland County and Richmond Community College.
With the change in market conditions, Icard said that he thinks the county was fortunate to have the Small Business Innovation Center and the property adjacent to it available on such short notice.
“Had we not developed this land and had this potential piece of property ready … we might have lost this project to another county or another state.”