COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WECT) - The Columbus County Economic Development Department is in talks with the North Carolina Department of Commerce about a job creation plan that could bring more than 300 jobs to towns across the county.
The Job Creation Plan for Distressed Communities in Columbus County asks the state's Rural Planning Center to conduct a study that would evaluate the labor force in the county, the cost of fixing buildings and building new ones and the unemployment rates.
According to Gary Lanier, Columbus County's economic and planning director, five towns -- Bolton, Chadbourn, Fair Bluff, Whiteville and Tabor City -- were chosen because they have the potential for businesses to start and grow there.
"When you're in a rural county in North Carolina, everybody can pretty much use the word distressed because most of the job growth, as we all know, just statistics show, has been in the urban areas and the rural counties need these jobs as well," Lanier said.
After Monday night's Board of Commissioners meeting, Lanier said the study group should address towns all over the county.
"We want to make sure we get the study group to look at all parts of the county and give economic development opportunities to all parts of the county," Lanier said.
He said Fair Bluff has a building that needs to be renovated and "could create a significant number of jobs," depending on the type of company that moves into the building.
Chadbourn has two buildings the town owns that need to be updated. Project Medical would move into the Chadbourn buildings, creating 15 jobs initially and potentially growing to 100 jobs, Lanier said.
In Bolton, a business owner wants to move a manufacturing business to the town and needs a building. According to Lanier, up to 25 jobs could be created in Bolton.
A business development center is planned in Tabor City with two to three businesses employing about 25 people each, Lanier said.
The study would provide guidance on which town to start one of these projects in and the county would then use the study to apply for grants for a development plan for the projects.
"As a friend of mine in economic development says, we try to dress all of the children alike," Lanier said. "You really want to see every community throughout the county be successful in job creation, and that's certainly what we want to focus on."
The Board of Commissioners approved $3,000 from the economic development budget for travel expenses for people from the Department of Commerce to travel to the county locations.
The $2.1 million sale of a Georgia Pacific industrial site to the RJ Corman Railroad Group was also approved Monday. RJ Corman is in talks with Project Black to use the site.