The announcement of 140 new jobs for Surry County is a welcome development, but such an event on Feb. 15 could include a special guest as well.
“We’re not sure yet, but we’re hoping that the governor will be here,” said Todd Tucker, president of the Surry County Economic Development Partnership.
“We haven’t got a confirmation on that yet,” Tucker added Monday regarding the possible appearance of Gov. Pat McCrory.
But whether the recently installed state leader attends or not, Feb. 15 will be an important day, when the coming of a new industry is announced during a 10 a.m. gathering at the Andy Griffith Playhouse in Mount Airy.
This will climax a vigorous recruitment effort that reached fruition with the unnamed company’s recent decision to establish a facility in the former Bassett Furniture plant on Sheep Farm Road just outside Mount Airy.
While the incoming industry is now known only by the code name “Project TAP,” Tucker discussed the nature of the California-based entity on Monday.
“They make household cleaning products,” similar to Formula 409, the economic-development official explained, which are sold in a retail environment that includes stores in this area. “They make over 100 different products.”
The nationally known company is expected to hire 140 people locally over the next five years while also investing more than $21 million in the operation.
In November, the Surry County Board of Commissioners approved a $543,448 incentive package for Project TAP.
Major Water User
The city of Mount Airy did not consider incentives for the new company, since the old Bassett plant is outside its limits. However, Mount Airy will be impacted positively in another way besides employment opportunities for its residents.
That will include the manufacturer buying a large quantity of water from the municipality, a couple of million gallons or more per month, officials say.
Tucker was unsure Monday when its operations, and hiring, will begin, pointing out that much work must be done to get the old Bassett plant into shape. The 540,000-square-foot facility has been vacant since 2008.
It needs a new roof among other infrastructure improvements, with the economic-development official explaining that some of the work will involve readying the former furniture-manufacturing plant for its new use.
Tucker thinks that the company will have people working there within the first couple of months after the Feb. 15 announcement. At first, the plant will be used as a distribution center. “But eventually they’ll make the cleaning products there,” Tucker said.
He and other local officials say the upcoming announcement involving 140 new jobs is welcome news for this area, given recent developments of a negative nature.
In early January, the closing of the Henredon Furniture plant in Mount Airy was disclosed, meaning the loss of more than 100 jobs. In late November, officials of HanesBrands Inc. said 60 production workers at its Mount Airy plant would be laid off by Jan. 1 of this year.
Tucker acknowledged Monday that Surry County has a lot of catching up to do to make up for such setbacks over the past decade.
“We’ve lost, since 2000, over 9,000 private-sector jobs.”
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.