ROCKY MOUNT, N.C.(WNCN) – Between Corning, Triangle Tire, and now CSX, more than 3000 jobs are heading to one of the most depressed regions in our state.
When the tobacco and textile industries left Rocky Mount more than a decade ago it derailed the entire community.
“We were struggling,” said Norris Tolson. “These are two of the highest unemployment counties in the state, in Edgecombe and Nash.”
Now local leaders believe the twin counties are back on track thanks to a $158-million investment by the NCDOT and CSX in what they’re calling the Carolina Connector.
“What CSX has done for the twin counties, Edgecombe and Nash County, is put us on the radar of companies all over the country that didn’t know who we were or where we were,” said Tolson.
“I don’t think there’s any question it will decrease unemployment,” said Gov. Roy Cooper. “In fact it will be a challenge for us to provide all of the workers that they need that have the training.”
The project may spur economic development but you’re largely picking up the tab, with the NCDOT paying $118-million of the $158-million project.
“Does this project get done without the state picking up 3/4 of the bill?” asked CBS17’s Holden Kurwicki.
“It’s important for the state to make an investment here,” said Gov. Cooper. “We did the economic investment and weighed it all. We weighed the pro’s and con’s here and believe this will be an investment that pays off many fold.”
Even as they break ground on the facility, Gov. Cooper admits this is only the beginning for a project that has seen multiple delays.
“We need to get this facility built,” said Gov. Cooper. “We need to get good employees hired and we need to make sure the building has the business it needs to succeed.”
If all goes as planned the new rail yard should be operational by late 2020.
The facility could also be staffed by local college graduates as North Carolina Wesleyan adds a new logistics major.