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Quality Workers, Strong Management and Supportive Community Make Berry Global Hum

By Lawrence Bivins   A plastics process technician with Berry Global in Battleboro, Tony DeRose has a career in plastics production that stretches 25 years. He has been a Berry Team Member for the past four of those years, working in injection blow molding. The work is intricate, challenging and rewarding all at the same time, DeRose says. The keys to success, he explains, all fit neatly within the company’s core behaviors: United, Focused, Accountable and Agile – or “UFAA,” standards that take the company and its Battleboro facility where it needs to be.   Working with plastics can also be dangerous, which places a premium on safety practices.  When Berry Global took over the 104,000-sq.-ft. facility in 2014, the plant had a mediocre safety record. By emphasizing training and workplace safety, the facility now has an exemplary record. “We’ve come a long way in four years,” says DeRose. This past May, the North Carolina Department of Labor presente ...

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U.S. Unit of Global Agricultural Equipment Leader Calls Twin Counties Home

By Lawrence Bivins   Mike Blount rattles off a list of reasons why the shiny blue farm vehicles assembled and sold by LS Tractor USA offer better value than the competition. “Features that are standard in our products are things our competitors charge extra for,” says Blount, chief executive officer at the company, which is headquartered in Battleboro. “And our warrantees are better than the industry average.”   The company’s tractors come in all sizes, with sub-compact models built for relatively modest tasks like mowing and snow removal, and heavy-duty models designed to serve cattle ranches, orchards and vineyards. Common to all is an attractive price-tag. “We get good pricing from our parent company, and we keep a pretty flat organization,” Blount explains. The savings are passed along to customers, who range from “weekend farmers” who dabble in agriculture as a hobby to full-time agribusiness professionals. LS Tractors’ distributio ...

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Community Colleges Bind Together to Address Workforce Paradox: Filling Skills Gaps Calls for Regional Outreach to Current and Future Job-Seekers

By Lawrence Bivins   Wilson County’s 6.5 percent unemployment rate is significantly higher than that of either the state (4.3 percent) or the nation (4.1 percent), according to the most recent data from the North Carolina Department of Commerce. Still, local employers can have a hard time finding qualified applicants for job vacancies -- even as educators at Wilson Community College stand ready with a host of affordable training programs designed with input from company managers.   “It’s a curious problem,” says Tim Wright, president of Wilson Community College. “In this part of the state we have economic challenges with unemployment while companies can’t fill open positions.” As one of North Carolina’s 58 community colleges, Wilson offers courses that can equip students for a variety of technical careers in as little as a year or, in some cases, even less. “It sounds simple, but it isn’t,” says Wright, who has worked in community ...

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ATLANTIC NATURAL FOODS STAYS AHEAD OF SURGE IN ‘FLEXITARIAN’ EATING

By Lawrence Bivins Can Nash County be a global mecca for vegan foods?   In fact, it’s well on its way. Since 2008, Atlantic Natural Foods (ANF) has quietly tested and produced a wide variety of shelf-stable, plant-based vegetarian foods and beverages from its 53,000-sq.-ft. base of operations at Nashville Industrial Center. The company also maintains a distribution facility in Rocky Mount. And more growth is on the horizon.   “We may be the best-kept secret in food development,” says Doug Hines, chief executive officer of AFT Holdings, Atlantic Natural Foods’ parent company. “We want to make Nashville, North Carolina a leading center for plant-based protein food creation for the future.”   Hines points to surveys that anticipate fast growth for companies like ANF. Some 45 percent of Americans believe they should eat less meat, for example. Thirty-five percent report eating less meat than they did a year ago. About 20 percent of today’s colleg ...

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IN THE EAST: Food Processing is Heating Up Around Rocky Mount

By Electricities Developments, Q3 Newsletter The agency notes several factors that contribute to this clustering, including the excellent highway system, business-friendly tax rates, and attractive incentives from state and local governments and from the Golden Leaf Foundation. But the reasons most often cited? The area’s convenient central East Coast location and its motivated and talented workforce. For Belgium-based Poppies International, those factors, as well as reliable electric service, have helped drive the company’s success in its U.S. headquarters in Rocky Mount for the past 17 years. Poppies International ships its frozen cream puffs and mini éclairs to buyers across the United States, Canada, and Asia. Its location in Rocky Mount’s Whitaker Business & Industry Center means easy access to Interstate 95 and U.S. Highway 64, as well as proximity to the Port of Norfolk. With Poppies’ automated production systems, refrigeration requirements, and round-the-clock ope ...

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For ACME United, a ‘can-do’ spirit led to Rocky Mount

By Lawrence Bivins   As the seasoned CEO of a publicly-held company, Walter Johnsen is adept at overcoming technical obstacles that stand between his business and its expansion strategy. In 2013, as he and ACME United Corporation sized up a vacant Rocky Mount furniture warehouse, the supportive nature of local and state leaders quickly became evident. “It was an abandoned building surrounded by grass about two-feet high,” recalls Johnsen, chairman and CEO of the Connecticut-based company.   Getting the grass cut at the 33-acre site wasn’t a problem, and the company – after considering rival locations in other states, as well as China – soon closed on the property for $2.8 million and began investing another half million dollars in its up-fit. When a prominent city official realized the 340,000-sq.-ft. building lacked an adequate sewer line, he offered to have one put in. “Mayor [David] Combs did that in a heartbeat,” Johnsen says. “He said he woul ...

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Meet the craft brewers making a go of it in Rocky Mount

By Russ Lay on July 8, 2018 Inspired by our recent trips across North Carolina, we are launching a recurring series sampling the beer, wine and spirits being made and sold in all corners of The Old North State as the industry fills the gaps left with the departure of manufacturing and textile companies in many towns and cities. In one part of Rocky Mount, a business incubator is focusing on one of America’s fastest growing economic sectors — craft beer. The second installment of our profile of Rocky Mount offers an introduction to the initial tenants of Rocky Mount Mills, a commercial center converted from a 200-year-old cotton mill as a business incubator. Planetary Elixirs Scott Meyer If you’re a fan of Outer Banks craft beers, then you already know Scott Meyer, who came to the Outer Banks with Aubrey Davis, Eric Reese and Tina Mackenzie to start the Outer Banks Brewing Station. Meyer was brought here as the brewmaster but has the most unusual backgroun ...

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Rocky Mount going all-in as a regional craft-brew incubator

By Russ Lay on June 30, 2018 A rendering of the repurposed Rocky Mount mill. Usually, our travel-related features focus on nearby destinations with an eye toward events, activities, entertainment and, of course, food and drink. This edition takes a slightly different twist as we combine the recreational attributes of our featured locale with a subject critical to northeastern North Carolina — jobs and the revitalization of cities. Before the Age of Globalization, regional cities such as Rocky Mount, Washington, Greenville, Kinston and even Elizabeth City had thriving agricultural and manufacturing economies. Tobacco, cotton and peanuts led the way in rural agriculture, but the cities were also home to manufacturers who supplied Detroit with fan belts, tires and other parts. Textiles, chemicals, paper products were also part of the economic landscape. As those jobs migrated to other countries, the region’s cities went into decline. Even agriculture has suffered as ...

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Twin Counties recognized in Business North Carolina

We are very excited for the Twin Counties to be recognized in the latest edition of the Business North Carolina magazine for one of the Top Economic Development Projects. 


Triangle Tyre ranked 3rd for largest new jobs and1st for largest investment!


The Twin Counties of Edgecombe & Nash are booming with opportunity and growth. Stay tuned as more great news continues to develop for the region!


Click the button below to check out the full article from the July edition of Business North Carolina!

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CSX Intermodal Facility Coming to Edgecombe County

RALEIGH –  A new intermodal transportation facility will be built in Edgecombe County to help industry get products to customers and spur growth in the region, officials with the N.C. Department of Transportation announced today. NCDOT has reached an agreement with CSX Corporation regarding the building and operation of the Edgecombe County facility. “This facility will make Eastern North Carolina even more attractive to businesses looking to grow by offering a logistical solution to industry shipping challenges,” said NCDOT Secretary Jim Trogdon. “We are pleased to help bring this intermodal facility to Eastern North Carolina.” The facility, known as the Carolina Connector (CCX), will be built on the CSX mainline and CSX will run it. NCDOT will invest up to $118.1 million for site development and roadway construction. NCDOT conducted an economic impact evaluation in early June and determined the facility will have an indirect job impact of up to 1,300 jobs. O ...

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