DAVIE COUNTY, N.C. — State officials announced Friday that Ashley Furniture will open a manufacturing and distribution center in Davie County, bringing with it more than 500 jobs.
State Deputy Secretary of Commerce Dale Carroll made the announcement at the High Point Furniture Market. The $80 million project is expected to create 550 jobs over a period of five years.
"It's a good environment. We feel there is a good workforce there. The RJR facility fits our needs well, and it has a lot of room for expansion," said Ron Wanek with Ashley.
Ashley will convert RJR's former tobacco drying and and storage facility into a 1.3 million square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility.
Todd Wanek, Ashley Furniture CEO, said the company also was impressed with something else besides the logistics: the attitude.
"The city, county and state--they have a pro-business attitude and are looking for ways to grow their employment base. We really believe attitude makes a difference," Todd Wanek said.
Officials plan to start hiring by August and start distribution in the new facility by October or November. Upholstery upholstery would start at the facility by next summer.
Jobs will be posted at ashleyfurniture.com/careers.
The total payroll for the new jobs is estimated to be $15.5 million once the facility is completed, officials said.
County officials said last summer that an unnamed major manufacturer was interested in a 350-acre site off Biltmore Road in the eastern part of the county. The RJR facility was on part of that land.
RJR donated all the land next to the facility to the Davie County Economic Development Commission, who in turn gave it to Ashley Furniture. Company officials said they'd use the land for future expansion. The donated land has a value of nearly $3.5 million.
The state awarded the company $825,000 in incentives for the project.
Gov. Bev Perdue was supposed to attend the announcement in person, but the state-owned jet made an emergency landing in Raleigh shortly after takeoff due to concerns about the landing gear.
Her office released the statement, seen below, following Carroll's announcement:
North Carolina continues to attract manufacturers that are drawn to our top-ranked business climate and highly-skilled workers. These companies choose North Carolina because of our past investments in education, economic development and in quality infrastructure.
The jobs will make Ashley Furniture one of Davie County’s largest employers.
The county has lost more than 1,000 furniture jobs over the last decade. Crowd Wood Products, which made TV cabinets for RCA, cut 750 jobs. Drexel Heritage, closed a bedroom furniture operation, cut 350 jobs. Baker Furniture laid off 250 people when it closed a case goods and upholstery plant.