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Plant picks Robeson for 150 jobs

LUMBERTON — The CEO of a company expected to create 150 good-paying jobs and invest more than $15.2 million locally during over the next three years says Robeson County beat out eight other counties in two states to get his business.

David Hargitt, the CEO of Cape Fear Arsenal Inc., a manufacturer of ammunition products in the Southeast, told The Robesonian on Wednesday that he looked at five counties in South Carolina and four counties in North Carolina before deciding to locate his company in Robeson County. He credited the good working relationship with Greg Cummings, Robeson County’s economic developer, and others involved in recruiting businesses to the area, for his choosing Lumberton.

The CEO said that he is aiming for an early-July ribbon-cutting for his manufacturing facility.

“We are very excited about being here,” he said.

The company plans to open the manufacturing plant in a vacant 65,000-square-foot building on Starlight Drive that used to house Outer Banks and most recently was home to Soldier Solutions. The building has been vacant for three years.

Cape Fear Arsenal says the average yearly wage will be about $41,000, but salaries will vary depending on the position.

“Our state has a strong manufacturing legacy,” Gov. Pat McCrory said in a joint statement with Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker. “This new facility advances that legacy with an innovative process that will result in much-needed, high-paying jobs for workers in Robeson County.”

Cape Fear Arsenal is a private corporation that focuses on products that will primarily be sold to law enforcement, but it also expects to bid on contracts for the military and state agencies.

“CFA is very appreciative of this opportunity to partner with the state of North Carolina and Robeson County as we look to do something positive in this industry,” Hargitt said. “Without the state and local government’s outstanding support, CFA’s ability to provide these opportunities in Lumberton would not have been possible. CFA will apply innovative manufacturing technology and the highly competent Robeson County workforce to produce various calibers of pistol ammunition for an already stressed and lacking ammunition market.”

Cummings said his office has been working to bring Cape Fear to Lumberton for 13 months.

“This is a great day for our county. This project will help strengthen our tax base and lower our unemployment rate,” Cummings said.

The average wage in Robeson County is about $26,000, and Cummings pointed out that dollars paid employees are spend an average of five time before leaving the local economy, producing a positive rippled effect.

The project was made possible in part by a performance-based grant from the One North Carolina Fund of up to $490,000. The One North Carolina Fund provides financial assistance through local governments to attract business projects that will stimulate economic activity and create new jobs. Companies receive no money up front and must meet job creation and investment performance standards to qualify for grant funds. These grants also require and are contingent upon local matches.

Other partners that helped with the project include: the N.C. Department of Commerce; the N.C. Community College System; North Carolina Southeast, Robeson County; City of Lumberton; Robeson County Economic Development Commission; and the Robeson County Committee of 100.

“This new manufacturing facility will provide solid employment opportunities for an area that was hit hard by the recession,” state Sen. Michael Walters said. “… These jobs that pay about $15,000 above the county’s average salary are the kind of jobs we need to cherish because they are going to help move Robeson County forward.

“All of the educational and infrastructure planning we’ve done over the last few years is beginning to pay off,” Walters said.

State Rep. Garland Pierce said the local workforce was a factor in the company’s decision to locate in Robeson County.

“North Carolina’s tremendous workforce continues to attract businesses to our state, and we’re excited to have Cape Fear Arsenal coming to Robeson County,” he said.

The property he company will pay will also be a local boost.

“I think this is fantastic,” County Manager Ricky Harris said. “I’m thrilled that this company has chosen the county.”

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