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New Industry Receives Leaders' Support

SPINDALE — Leaders from Rutherford County stood before Rutherford County Commissioners and the Forest City Town Commissioners Monday afternoon at Isothermal Community College’s Foundation, expressing their support of Horsehead Corporation’s relocation here and asked the two governmental entities to approve incentives to bring the company to Rutherford County. 

Both boards unanimously approved the incentives, welcoming the company here. Forest City Commissioners are David Eaker, Dee Dee Griffith, Shawn Moore, Steve Holland and Chris Lee with Mayor Dennis Tarlton. County Commissioners attending were Bill Eckler, Susan Crowe, Julius Owens and Eddie Holland.

Horsehead will invest $360 million in a state-of-the-art facility and will offer 250 jobs to county residents. Construction will begin early next year with about 1,000 employees and a completion date of 2013.

Rutherford County Economic Development Commission Executive Director Tom Johnson was the first to address the two boards sitting at long tables inside the Foundation auditorium. Johnson, in a lengthy description, explained more about the company and the work entailed in the project.

“Horsehead Corporation is the largest zinc producer in the United States, and we are extremely pleased they have chosen to locate this state-of-the-art and environmentally friendly technology here in Rutherford County.” Johnson said. “As efforts to rebuild the local economy continue, a major component of that rebuilding will be to develop new economic clusters and create diversification in the manufacturing base. 

“Horsehead is a very welcome addition to the manufacturing base of Rutherford County, adding manufacturing diversity and great paying jobs. “ 

Johnson said less than a year ago, “we announced the largest non-utility project in the history of Rutherford County, Facebook, and today we were honored by the Governor (Bev Perdue) in announcing the single largest manufacturing project in the history of Rutherford County. 

“These two announcements represent three-quarters of a billion dollars of investment in Rutherford County in less than one year and the creation of about 300 jobs for both projects,” he said. “This project has been one of the most interesting and challenging I’ve been involved with because of the multitude of moving pieces. The efforts that were required to reach today’s announcement have been significant and have involved numerous departments at various levels — federal, state, regional, and local government agencies as well as private companies. While today’s announcement represents a monumental event in the economic history of Rutherford County, one must recognize economic development is a process.”

The process began on Dec. 3, 2010, when EDC received a request for information from Harry Poovey of Duke Energy and from InSite Consulting Principals Tonya Crist and Rob Cornwell. 

“A unique characteristic of this project was that it needed rail, a river, good accessibility, a large flat pad and all utilities,” Johnson said. “After a thorough search in multiple states, the company focused on a 200-acre tract of property that adjoins the Broad River and has a railroad going through the middle of it. The utility and topography challenges were great and access needed to be improved to the soon to be completed four-lane U.S. 221. 

“A small waterline from Daniel Morgan Water Corporation and Duke Electric are the only public utilities on site and current access is provided by a two-lane road through a residential area with a wooden bridge with a posted weight limit over the CSX railroad. Significant work will have to be done to accommodate this major project and the cost of infrastructure is going to be several million dollars.”

Simultaneous discussions began with Golden Leaf Foundation, the N.C. Rural Center, the N.C. Department of Commerce, N.C. Department of Transportation, Appalachian Regional Commission, CSX Railroad, PSNC, Duke Energy, the Town of Forest City and Rutherford County, Johnson explained.

He said the local effort began when EDC Specialist Mary Taylor responded to the original information request and former County Manager John Condrey, former County Chief Financial Officer Julie Scherer, County Attorney Beth Miller and Johnson crafted the original incentive response. 

Over the last several months, Paula Roach, Miller and Johnson along with the Parker Poe Team, led by Steve Hunting, spent many hours working on the many aspects of this project. 

In addition, important work has been accomplished locally by Teresa Spires with IPDC and Dave Odom and his staff at Odom Engineering. 

Moving forward there will be significant involvement from Isothermal Community College with Customized Skills Training, he said.

Also speaking in support of the company’s move were Terry Hines, EDC board chairman; Dr. Myra Johnson, Isothermal Community College President; Dave Bixler, Rutherford Regional Medical System CEO; Condrey, who worked on the project from its beginning last December until his resignation June 30; Mike Gavin, communications director at ICC; Sally Lesher and Keven McCammon, EDC board members; Rep. Mike Hager and Clyde Keller.

Copyright 2011 The Digital Courier. All rights reserved. 

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