BUTLER: Old Richmond County Mill Becomes Furniture Warehouse; Energy Way draws attention

Richmond County Economic Developer Martie Butler briefs commissioners on local projects Aug. 2. Photos by William R. Toler – Richmond Observer

ELLERBE — A former textile mill will soon house high-end furniture.

New York-based France and Son recently purchased the former Richmond Yarns factory in Ellerbe for use as a distribution center, economic developer Martie Butler told the Richmond County Board of Commissioners last week.

Butler said the previous owner, an investor, gutted the facility and sold much of the old machinery and made repairs and fittings.

She added that the facility was sublet and a few of the existing tenants will be allowed to continue to sublet.

France and Son moved some of its products into the distribution facility, according to Butler. However, she said there will only be a few jobs associated with the center.

“One unique thing about this building is (it’s) an old textile factory and the economic development people know that when you have 12 or 14 foot ceilings it’s really hard to get rid of it,” she said. “So I’m happy to see that there’s life in this facility, that there’s movement, that people are using it and that it’s still on the tax books.”

Butler continued his update by saying that project activity is at an all-time high, noting that the recent landing of two automakers in North Carolina “really had a huge impact” for the entire state. .

“North Carolina is a county-led economic development state,” Butler said. “The projects will go to the state level, but it’s the counties that take the projects and roll with them.

“To say we’ve been busy is an understatement,” she continued, adding that the county had received 45 requests for information from the state — 21 of which were from EV battery manufacturers or automotive suppliers — so far. now this year.

By comparison, Butler said there were only 18 project applications in 2021.

Entrance to the Energy Way Industrial Park from Airport Road, south of Hamlet.

There were eight site visits in 2022, according to Butler.

“It’s really no secret that the Energy Way Industrial Park site is the one that’s getting the most attention,” she said.

The drawdown is the amount of available energy and infrastructure.

Butler said she was working “quite a bit” with Duke Energy on the site, with the company “also bringing customers to the table” and benefiting from 100 megawatts of power instantly. She added that “many other sites in the state have to work to get this.”

For those who have visited but passed by the site, Butler said they want more studies to be done, including soil probing and the delineation of wetlands.

Also last week, drone video from the Energy Way site was recorded for use in an advertisement for the North Carolina Economic Development Partnership to pitch to site selectors and large corporations, according to Butler, adding that Richmond is one of the five chosen communities.

“We’re not a megasite, we’re not a thousand acres, but we’re slightly below that with huge energy capacity,” she said.

Former Rockingham Mayor and State Senator Gene McLaurin serves as president of the EDPNC.

The county recently received $4 million from the state budget to help fund a sewage line to serve the new Energy Way industrial park.
The county is also making progress on the latest shell building.

According to Butler, LKC Engineering has yet to complete the final environmental study.

“Once this study is completed, funds will be released and we can begin,” she said.

The 40,000 square foot facility, which will be located adjacent to Laticrete in the Richmond County Industrial Park just outside of Hamlet on the US 74 bypass, will be the sixth major building.

The first four shell buildings are occupied by General Glass, CAI Inks, Latham Pool and Piedmont Natural Gas, all located in the Rockingham West Industrial Park.

Impact Plastics, which already had a site on County Home Road, opened a second location in the fifth clamshell building in 2020.

The RCED secured a $2 million loan from Pee Dee Electric for the construction of the main building.

Butler also took the time to plug in the third annual raffle at The Rock.

Funds raised are used to fund economic development efforts, including geotechnology studies, so local taxpayer dollars are not used.

One thousand tickets will be sold at $100 each. Those who purchase tickets before September 1 are entered for one of two early bird cash prizes of $1,500 or $1,000.

Along with other cash prizes, ticket holders will have the chance to win a 2022 Polaris Sportsman 450, a John Deere Gator TS and multiple firearms.

Tickets will be drawn at 3 p.m. on October 1 during the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce’s Hoptoberfest.

For more information, visit the Richmond County Economic Development website, Facebook page or call 910-997-8190.

About Oscar L. Smith

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