The incentives were approved by the state Economic Investment Committee on Tuesday morning. Gov. Roy Cooper was in Wagram, where the Cascades plant is located, to make the announcement.
Scotland County is required to add incentives worth up to $3.6 million, as part of the agreement. Cascades also must invest $58 million into the Scotland County plant, where employees make bathroom tissue, facial tissues and napkins, among other items.
Scotland County is the state’s worst performing county in terms of unemployment, according to figures from the Commerce Department. The county’s unemployment rate at 6.2 percent was the highest in the state during the month of September, which is the latest month for which the numbers were calculated.
Currently, the state as a whole has an unemployment rate of 3.6 percent as of October, though some of the state’s economic engines, such as Wake and Mecklenburg counties, have rates below 3 percent.
Mark Ward, the economic development director for Scotland County, said Tuesday’s announcement was great for the Scotland County community — not just because of the new jobs, but also because of the promise that the company will retain its existing jobs there.
The incentive requires that the jobs be added over a two-year period and the company must also retain the 220 positions it already has in North Carolina — in Wagram and in Rockingham in Richmond County. The average annual wage for the jobs is nearly $49,000. The Scotland County average annual wage is $35,300.
Cascades said it was considering expanding jobs to a different plant in the southeast. Across North America and Europe, Cascades employs 11,000 people in 90 different production units.
“You always have that fear (that jobs could leave) and you always have competition from other states,” Ward said. “When you already have 200 plus jobs here, you don’t want to lose one.”
The investments from Cascades will be used to modernize its production facility in Wagram to make higher quality products and improve its distribution network to reduce transportation costs.
Ward added that the county’s high unemployment is actually advantageous for attracting employers in a time when the country as a whole is seeing low unemployment. Many companies have found it harder to hire people as fewer people are actively searching for work.
But “as of last week, we have 800-plus people looking for jobs,” Ward said.