In reference to a much needed job boost in the county, Edgecombe didn’t quite get that shot in the arm during the commissioners’ regularly scheduled meeting Monday night, but a distinctive designation was bestowed on the county that may prove that help is on its way.
CSX Corporation tagged the Kingsboro Industrial Sites as its first CSX Select Site designation in North Carolina. CSX is one of seven Class I railroads in the United States and operates trains over 21,000 miles of track in 23 states. Other sites are in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and South Carolina.
CSX’s Select Site program reviews manufacturing and distribution development sites along the CSX network that can rapidly utilize freight rail service. The designation confirms that standard land use issues have been addressed and that the sites are ready for development.
“Edgecombe County and Edgecombe-Martin County Electric Membership Corporation have invested a lot of money in that area involving infrastructure and we have not been attract any industries with the exception of QVC,” said Edgecombe County Manager Lorenzo Carmon. “With this project, we’re hoping that we will give QVC some company.”
Surveys on the sites, environmental studies addressed and proper zoning for heavy industrial were keys to the site receiving the distinction. Another key was the the close proximity to the railroad and U.S. Highway 64.
Monday night the board unanimously approved rezoning three tracts of land on the site that totaled more than 1,000 acres from AR-30 (agriculture residential) to M-2 (general industrial).
“Having everything already in place makes Edgecombe attractive to recruiters,” Carmon said. “This is a plus for us.”
CSX introduced the Selective Sites program in January to better serve customers in the company’s backyard by adding rail transport access routes for some of the premier manufacturing properties in in the eastern United States. CSX partnered with The Austin Company, a nationally-known site selection and certification consulting firm, to screen candidate sites and assist communities with the application and certification process.
Carolina Gateway Partnership Vice President Oppie Jordan explained that the program will assist in marketing the site. The site is featured on a website with press releases, promotional materials and direct marketing to site selection professionals.
“This is great,” Jordan said. “All they have to do is to build it. We would love to have another QVC out there.”
Carolina Gateway Partnership, the Golden Leaf Foundation and N.C. Eastern Region assist in the funding that made the sites meet the CSX’s requirements.
Although the distinction doesn’t guarantee any new industries, it should give county leaders a glitter of hope. Edgecombe County has not faired well in the job market for a number of years.
In September, Edgecombe unemployment rate was 13.8 percent — the third-highest in the state. Edgecombe has been in the top five in at least the last 10 years and has experienced 52 consecutive months of double-digit unemployment.