LUMBERTON - Robeson County received a double dose of promising economic news Friday.
A $932,000 federal grant will help build a business incubator for the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, the U.S. Commerce Department announced. The department's Economic Development Administration said the grant to the university and its foundation is expected to create 115 jobs and attract nearly $1.2 million in private investment over three years.
Also, the governor's office announced that a manufacturer of upscale rugs and furniture plans to open a wholesale distribution center and retail outlet in Robeson County that will eventually employ 45 people.
"With our unemployment rate over 12 percent, this is good news for us," said Greg Cummings, director of Robeson County Economic Development. "This will reach a segment of our society that really needs jobs. This is real good news for our county."
Due Process Stable Trading Co. LLC will invest nearly $1.4 million in its new distribution center over the next three years, Gov. Pat McCrory's office said in a news release. The company focuses on a wholesale line of products geared toward luxury markets, including upscale rugs, fabrics, furniture and furnishing accessories.
Salaries will vary by job.
The average warehouse worker will earn $14 an hour, said company president David Grasse. Those employed in the front office typically make $13 to $14 an hour.
"As we expand," he said, "we will be adding more sales people. Those are higher-paying jobs."
Cummings said the Edison, N.J.-based company has purchased a 90,000-square-foot building with 20-foot high ceilings in Lumberton. The site is at the intersection of Interstate 95 and U.S. 74.
"We've looked all over North and South Carolina. We decided the Carolinas were the area because of the proximity to seaports," Grasse said. "That was the idea for our business. I must have looked at 100 warehouses and communities."
Plans call for Due Process Stable Trading to be up and running by Nov. 30, Grasse said.
The project was made possible in part by a performance-based grant of up to $40,000 from the One North Carolina Fund.
As for the business incubator, the federal grant will fund the renovation of existing buildings in downtown Pembroke to create the UNCP Entrepreneurship Incubator. The facility will provide local entrepreneurs and high-growth businesses with "quality space and business services," the Commerce Department said.