Expansion, retention key to economic development

Greg Icard Target Laurinburg

April 23, 2014

In order to be as successful as possible in fulfilling the mission of the Scotland County Economic Development Corporation, it is essential to work in all areas of economic development. One major aspect of a diversified economic development program is business retention and expansion. Business retention and expansion is really a laser beam focus on industries already located in the county where we work to assist the companies in any way possible so they can remain profitable and stay in Scotland County. While industrial recruitment receives a great deal of attention in the minds of many, working with the existing industries is where most new jobs in a community can be generated.

Most of the work of business retention and expansion is never seen by the community. Sometimes, however, the years of work behind the scenes bear fruit that can be seen. That is the case with FCC North Carolina. By now, many Scotland County citizens have driven by the recent FCC North Carolina construction site on U.S. 401 in Laurinburg. Some still do not fully understand the significance of the project in its entirety because the project grew larger after it was originally announced in 2012, and because there are actually two aspects to the project with construction in Laurel Hill and Laurinburg. Originally FCC North Carolina planned a $57.6 million project that would employ 66 new workers in Scotland County. Over a period of many months, this project became an $80 million dollar investment with 96 new workers in early 2013. Currently, the investment will be closer to a total of $100 million dollars which represents the largest single amount of investment announced in the history of economic development in Scotland County.

It is really important to understand the scale of this investment and what it means for not only Scotland County but for FCC North Carolina. FCC announced their intention to locate originally in Scotland County in the year 2000 with an initial investment of $10 million and up to 80 jobs. Operations and manufacturing actually began at the Laurel Hill facility in 2002. After almost ten years of operations, the year 2011 brought the announcement of additional customer growth for the company as they picked up Ford Motor Company and necessitated additional investment of another $10 million with 35 jobs. The most recent expansion of jobs and new investment now totals $100 million dollars which is ten times their original investment in Scotland County.

This investment really is two separate projects with one part in Laurel Hill and the other in Laurinburg. Because so many people travel U.S. 401, most have seen the 160,000 square feet that have been added in the newly planned industrial park in Laurinburg. The construction on U.S. 401 is FCC’s new paper plant that will manufacture friction paper currently manufactured in Japan. The additional 92,000 square feet of space added to their current facility in Laurel Hill will allow FCC to manufacture products for Chrysler and is an aspect of this total project of which many are not aware. These two construction projects total 252,000 square feet of additional manufacturing space for FCC in Scotland County and make up the new investment of $100 million dollars. The construction is currently winding down and they are beginning to transition into the manufacturing process.

The purpose of the Scotland County Economic Development Corporation is to grow and attract new jobs and investment so that there are more opportunities for the citizens of our county. With a great deal of hard work and effort, we have seen successes in our county that enables us to Target Laurinburg and Scotland County. Because of partnerships and coordinated effort, we will continue to see positive results in economic development in Scotland County.

Greg Icard is the Director of Economic Development for Scotland County and President of the Scotland County Economic Development Corporation.