There was a time when Anson County stretched from North Carolina westward to the Mississippi River. It’s smaller today, but its economic ambitions remain expansive.
“We’re rural,” says Mary Beck, director of the Anson County Economic Development Commission, “but we have a lot of infrastructure.” The county is well served by CSX rail, for example, and has ample water, sewer and natural gas. It’s also well located, close to I-74 to its east and I-485, the Charlotte beltline, to its west. “We’re only 50 miles from Charlotte,” Beck says.
Anson County joined the Southeast Region earlier this year after Beck and other county leaders decided the county’s economic terrain fit well with that of most Southeast communities. It previously had participated in the Charlotte Region’s marketing programs. “We felt we had more in common with counties in the Southeast,” she says.
In terms of its target industries, Anson County is indeed a strong fit with the Southeast. Among them are building- and wood-products; companies in that sector can take advantage of the county’s abundant forests and large swaths of undeveloped land. Food and beverage processors also do well there, supported by the county’s diligent workforce and 487 active farms. Its home to three major textile manufacturers and is making a name for itself in biomass and biofuels.
“We are just phenomenal with metal fabrication here,” Beck adds. About 250 metalworkers in the county are employed across eight companies. They include Anson Machine Works, which operates a 52,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing and headquarters facility in Polkton as well as a smaller assembly and warehouse site in Peachland. Not far away is Southern Piedmont Piping, a 30-year-old company serving buyers in the aerospace, defense, automotive, chemical and other industries.
Among the county’s top economic priorities is site development. It recently acquired a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to do Phase I assessments on several industrial properties. “We were one of only four North Carolina applicants to get funded,” Beck says. Phase I environmental surveys are the first step toward getting sites certified, another long-range goal for Anson County. The county also is about to launch a new website.
“The Southeast does a wonderful job,” says Beck regarding Anson County’s participation in the Southeastern Partnership. Partnership leaders have provided advice and technical support in integrating her program into the new region. “They’ve helped us come along way.”