LAURINBURG — Mountaire Farms has recognized a Laurinburg resident for making the community a better place.
Brenda Gilbert, president of the Scotland County Arts Council, was honored with the Better Carolina Award on Thursday.
“We give the Better Carolina Award to individuals who have gone above and beyond their call of duty to work with their communities to make them a better place to live, and also people who have influenced the lives of a lot of people,” said Mark Reif, Mountaire Farms human resources and community relations manager.
“It is an honor to receive the Better Carolina Award — it is a very prestigious award and I am just tickled,” Gilbert said.
She is the first recipient of the Better Carolina Award from Scotland County.
Mountaire Farms honors community leaders throughout North Carolina, and when the company asked Chris English, Laurinburg/Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce director, who to nominate, Gilbert was the first name that came to mind.
“Brenda has dedicated many years to make Laurinburg and Scotland County a better place, and she has had a huge impact on beautification and arts in the area,” English said.
Since Mountaire Farms announced in last year the opening of a fed mill at the Laurinburg-Maxton Airport, honoring a member of the Scotland County community is one of the first steps in immersing the company into the community they are soon to be working out of, according to Reif.
“This is a big day for Scotland County with the coming of Mountaire Farms. This is going to bring jobs here and good paying jobs,” Gilbert said.
The integrated poultry processing company has begun the process of investing nearly $44 million at the county’s certified industrial site near the Laurinburg-Maxton Airport over the next three years. The feed mill will also bring 65 new jobs with it.
The operation will employ machine operators, maintenance specialists, drivers, and management personnel. Wages will vary by position, but the average compensation for the new positions will be $51,408 per year, according to officials with the state Department of Commerce. Scotland County’s average annual wage is about $34,037.
The Mountaire Farms Feed Mill project will also provide growth opportunities for local chicken producers and grain suppliers, officials said. Mountaire is a major purchaser of commodity grains including corn, soybeans, wheat, and barley.
“We are going to try to buy as much corn, soy, and beans from local suppliers,” Reif said, who explained the new Feed Mill will be exporting its product with a 100-car train.
Mountaire Farms’ future Laurinburg feed mill will be the same size as the company’s Candor feed mill facility, which is the largest mill of its kind in North Carolina. The new mill will be a feeder to the chicken producer’s Lumber Bridge plant, according to Reif.
Gilbert started her career in Scotland County as the Scotland County Schools System director of school-community relations. She has also served as the Storytelling Arts Center of the Southeast board chair, Laurinburg/Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce workforce development coordinator, and was a previous chamber president.
Reach Nolan Gilmour at 910-506-3171