Pender County to be Home to Lee’s Tackle, Inc.

Southeastern North Carolina’s marine trades and services cluster, already humming with growth and new activity, was able to reel in a major new name in June when Lee’s Tackle, Inc., announced plans to relocate all its operations to Burgaw from Miami, where it has been based since its founding in 1920. The move brings an investment of at least $3 million to Pender County and as many as 65 new jobs. The firm, which makes and markets a variety of commercial and recreational fishing equipment, plans to break ground on a 5.2-acre parcel at Pender Progress Industrial Park by the end of 2007.

“Our partners at North Carolina’s Southeast Commission had quite a bit to do with making this announcement happen,” said Scott Satterfield, chief executive officer of Wilmington Industrial Development, which directs economic development activities for Pender County. An Internet search brought Lee Tackle officials to the Commission’s Web site, getting them hooked on the idea of coming to Southeastern North Carolina. “Support from the Commission was also key on the back end of this project,” Satterfield added. Financial assistance through the Commission’s private arm, The Southeastern Partnership, Inc., provided evidence that regional authorities also would be eager to support the firm’s success.

Roswell Lee, Jr., third-generation owner of Lee’s Tackle, called leaving the firm’s longtime Miami home “a hard decision.” But competitive pressures brought on by spiraling property taxes, utility rates and insurance premiums led the privately-held company to explore other locations. “It simply didn’t make sense to be there anymore,” he said. Lower overhead costs, proximity to customers and quality of life considerations were factors that led the company to Burgaw, where it will relocate as many as 15 key employees. “We’re very impressed with the Wilmington area and with Burgaw,” says Mr. Lee, who will be moving his family from their current home in Coral Gables.