PENDER COUNTY — Governor Roy Cooper announced today that Indian industrial hose manufacturer Polyhose will invest $7.9 million in a distribution warehouse inside the Pender Commerce Park along U.S. 421.
The company is expected to create 51 jobs in Pender County as it joins Acme Smoked Fish, Empire Distributors, FedEx Freight, and Coastal Beverages inside the industrial park just north of the New Hanover County line.
“Polyhose is an international company and could have selected anywhere in the world to put this plant, but they’ve decided to come right here,” Cooper said at a gathering next to the Coastal Beverages facility Tuesday afternoon.
He said the area’s highway system, its location near a seaport and airport, and the state’s community college system were key in convincing the company to build a plant in the greater Wilmington area.
The average wage for all new positions could reach $38,200, higher than the county’s current average annual wage of $32,627, according to a release from Cooper’s office after the announcement. A performance-based grant of $75,000 from the One North Carolina Fund will help facilitate the company’s operation.
Cooper is currently engaged in a public battle with Republicans in the state’s General Assembly; the already contentious relationship grew increasingly adversarial when Republicans accused Cooper of improperly using his authority and influence in creating an environment fund for clean energy and rural development after hiring private investigators to look into how the fund was created.
As reported in the News & Observer, Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, who plans to run against Cooper in 2020, has asked the FBI to investigate the situation (Forest will face local representative Holly Grange in a primary). Cooper has denied all allegations of improper action and has fired back through spokespeople, calling Republican claims inaccurate and calling into question donations made to Forest’s campaign fund.
Polyhose’s location search
Headquartered in India, Polyhose manufactures industrial hoses and tubings for large equipment companies like Boeing and Caterpillar. The global conglomerate employees more than 1,800 employees for operations in Europe, Middle East, Southeast Asia, and North America.
Its newest location will be a 40,000 square-foot warehouse for hose assembly and distribution.
John Pressler, senior vice president at Polyhose, said the company’s search for a place in the U.S. to expand its distribution channels first began at an economic conference in Washington D.C. in the spring of 2018, where he met representatives from the development group called North Carolina’s Southeast. He also met groups from other areas of the U.S.
“I would call this economic development speed dating,” he said. “I rejected some of those invitations, and I accepted some. Obviously that was a very good speed date because we’re here today.”
Pressler said the key groups that persuaded his company to choose Pender County included Wilmington Business Development (WBD), Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, North Carolina’s Southeast, and the N.C. Department of Commerce.
“The number one thing I was concerned about was the workforce. Those groups did a great job convincing me,” Pressler said. “We spent a lot of time talking about the North Carolina community college system, and the great job they do in educating, training, and preparing people for the workforce.”
Polyhose’s vice president of operations Mohammed Millwala called the move the company’s greatest achievement in its 25-year history.
“It is a matter of pride and honor for an international company like us, a small company growing rapidly, to have the opportunity to be a contributor to this region, to its economy, to the state of North Carolina, and to the great nation of the United States. It is the biggest achievement that we’ve had,” Millwala said.
Pender County Chairman George Brown said today’s announcement showed how the industrial park has become “a shining example of how a rural community can make a major logistics destination from the ground up.”
The commerce park is the product of a partnership between WBD and the county to recruit manufacturers, distribution companies, food processing companies, and company headquarters to the area.
In early August, county commissioners approved offers from Polyhose and Mobrix to purchase properties in the park for $410,000 and $634,400, respectively.
As part of the potential Mobrix deal, Winston-Salem developer Chris Ramm of Taylor Development Group submitted plans for a 126,000-square-foot industrial building in late October. Ramm plans to build it out as a speculative project to attract industrial companies to either lease or purchase the property.
A 120-day due diligence period for that project expires in mid-December.
Mark Darrough can be reached at Mark@Localvoicemedia.com or (970) 413-3815