Home Local News BUTLER: Former Richmond County mill becomes furniture warehouse; Energy Way attracting attention

BUTLER: Former Richmond County mill becomes furniture warehouse; Energy Way attracting attention

Richmond County Economic Developer Martie Butler updates commissioners on local projects Aug. 2. Photos by William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

ELLERBE — A former textile mill will soon be housing upscale furniture.

New York-based France and Son recently purchased the former Richmond Yarns facility in Ellerbe for use as a distribution center, Economic Developer Martie Butler told the Richmond County Board of Commissioners last week.

Butler said the prior owner, an investor, gutted the facility and sold off a lot of the old machinery and made repairs and upfits.

She added that the facility was being subleased and a couple of the existing tenants will be allowed to continue subleasing.

France and Son has moved some of its product into the facility for distribution, according to Butler. However, she said there will only be a few jobs associated with the center.

“One thing unique about that building is (it’s) an old textile facility and folks in economic development know when you have 12- or 14-foot ceilings, that’s really hard to get rid of,” she said. “So I’m glad to see there’s life being breathed into this facility, there’s movement, folks are utilizing it, and it’s remaining on the tax books.”

Butler continued her update by saying that project activity is at an all-time high, noting that North Carolina’s recent landing of two automotive manufacturers “has really made a huge impact” for the entire state.

“North Carolina is a county-led economic development state,” Butler said. “Projects will go to the state level, but it’s the counties that take the projects and roll with them.

“To say that we’ve been busy is an understatement,” she continued, adding that the county has received 45 requests for information from the state — 21 of which have been EV battery manufacturers or automotive suppliers — so far this year.

As a comparison, Butler said there were only 18 project inquiries in 2021.

Entrance to Energy Way Industrial Park from Airport Road, south of Hamlet.

There have been eight site visits in 2022, according to Butler.

“It’s really no secret the Energy Way Industrial Park site is the one that is getting the most attention,” she said.

The draw is the amount of available power and the infrastructure.

Butler said she’s been working with Duke Energy “quite a bit” on the site, with the company also “bringing clients to the table” and boasting 100 megawatts of power instantly. She added that “many other sites in the state have to work to get that.”

For those that have visited but passed on the site, Butler said they’ve wanted more studies done, including soil bores and wetland delineation.

Also last week, the drone video of the Energy Way site was recorded to use in a commercial for the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina to pitch to site selectors and large companies, according to Butler, adding that Richmond is one of the five communities chosen.

“We’re not a megasite, we’re not a thousand acres, but we’re slightly under that, with huge power capacity,” she said.

Former Rockingham mayor and state senator Gene McLaurin is chairman of the EDPNC.

The county was recently allocated $4 million from the state budget to help fund a wastewater line to serve the new Energy Way Industrial Park.
The county is also making progress on the latest shell building.

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According to Butler, LKC Engineering still has to do the final environmental study.

“Once that study is completed, the funds will be released and we can get started,” she said.

The 40,000-square-foot facility, which will be located next to Laticrete in the Richmond County Industrial Park, just outside Hamlet on the U.S. 74 Bypass, will be the sixth shell building.

The first four shell buildings are occupied by General Glass, CAI Inks, Latham Pool and Piedmont Natural Gas — all in the Rockingham West Industrial Park.

Impact Plastics, which already had a site on County Home Road, opened a second location at the fifth shell building in 2020.

RCED has been awarded a $2 million loan from Pee Dee Electric for the construction of the shell building.

Butler also took time to plug the third annual Raffle at the Rock.

The funds raised go toward funding economic development efforts, including geo-tech studies, so local tax dollars aren’t used.

One thousand tickets will be sold at $100 each. Those who purchase tickets by Sept. 1 are entered for one of the two early bird cash prizes of $1,500 or $1,000.

In addition to other cash prizes, ticket holders will have a chance at winning a 2022 Polaris Sportsman 450, a John Deere Gator TS and several firearms.

Tickets will be drawn at 3 p.m. Oct. 1 during the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce’s Hoptoberfest.

For more information, visit the Richmond County Economic Development website, Facebook page or call 910-997-8190.

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Managing Editor William R. Toler is an award-winning writer and photographer with experience in print, television and online media.