New Businesses Continue Arriving Despite National Headwinds

As a sign of the Southeast Region’s unique appeal to modern industry, three companies established operations here during in late 2008. The three, which together account for $3.5 million in capital investment and the creation of 72 new jobs, each found their way to the region with help from North Carolina’s Southeast Commission.

In Robeson County, Carolina Pine Shavings, LLC, recently launched a busy production site that processes pine timber into a wood-shaving product used to pad equestrian stables and beds. The firm is a model of a “Green Economy” start-up, drying its product in heating tanks fueled with the bark and pine-dust by-products derived from its timber cutting. “It’s an ideal example of the sustainable, responsible use of our natural resources,” explains George Wilcox, a partner in the venture.  “Pine trees are a precious resource, but a renewable one,” he says. Mr. Wilcox explains that his firm’s product is being considered for use by the poultry industry. Once shavings are removed from stables and poultry houses, it can be utilized as compost by residential landscapers, for instance, or even burned to produce clean electrical power. Currently, Carolina Pine Shavings employs about 25 workers, with additional workforce growth anticipated as the firm institutes a second shift and swaps out antiquated production machines with more modern gear.

Not far away, Robeson County’s COMtech Park, satellite TV provider Dish Network Communications plans to locate a 5,000-square-foot distribution center. The site will serve Dish Network customers across the Carolinas. The publicly held company, headquartered in Englewood, Colo., is bringing a $1 million capital investment to the region, along with about 27 jobs.

Nor has good news escaped Columbus County, where a consumer foods manufacturer is setting up a mid-Atlantic manufacturing facility. In September, Piramide Mexican Foods announced it would invest at least $1 million at the vacant Sumitomo building in Whiteville’s Southeast Industrial Park, where it will produce tortilla chips from corn and flour. “It’s a start-up company,” explains Justin S. Smith, director of the Columbus County Economic Development Commission. The company is now up-fitting the building to suit its production systems. “They will be up and running soon,” Mr. Smith says. Piramide initially will employ 20 workers at the 48,000-square-foot building, which North Carolina’s Southeast had marketed.