Improving Business in the Wilmington Region
HIGH-END SEAFOOD PROCESSOR UNVEILS PLANS TO BRING 120 JOBS TO PENDER COUNTY New York-Based Company Will Invest as much as $30 million at Pender Commerce Park
October 18, 2013 – Wilmington, N.C. Global demand for nutrient-rich smoked fish is good news for the Pender County community of Currie, which will be the site of a new 100,000-square-foot seafood processing facility that will employ 120 workers. RC Creations, LLC, a unit of Brooklyn, New York-based Acme Smoked Fish Corporation, will invest nearly $30 million at Pender Commerce Park in an initiative announced today by the McCrory Administration, Pender County officials and leaders of Wilmington Business Development (WBD).
“Our location on the Eastern Seaboard, strong infrastructure grid and access to a skilled workforce make Pender County a great fit for RC Creations,” Governor McCrory said in a prepared statement. “The jobs they’ll create in Pender County will be an example to others of North Carolina’s strong business climate and attractive quality of life.” The state is supporting the company’s arrival in Pender County through a Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG), community college assistance and infrastructure support.
The company’s selection of Pender Commerce Park, a 400+ acre industrial property acquired by county leaders in 2006, came after an exhaustive East Coast search that began in February. The 75-year-old family-owned company initially considered 11 locations, according to Richard Nordt, Vice President of manufacturing at Acme. The list was whittled down to three Southern U.S. communities, including Pender County. “Over the last four months, we got down to determining which one made us the most comfortable,” he says.
Access to skilled workers, an international airport and a deepwater port were among the factors that led company officials to make Greater Wilmington their choice. Nordt and his colleagues also were impressed by the enthusiastic reception they received from local leaders. “Sometimes it’s not always about dollars and cents,” Nordt explains. “It’s about a comfort level in the people you’re dealing with.”
RC Creations will rely on the Port of Wilmington both for arriving supplies of fresh and frozen fish and the export of its product line to overseas buyers. The company’s salmon lox, wild-caught herring, fish salads and specialty-smoked fish are distributed through retailers under the Acme, Blue Hill Bay, Great American and Ruby Bay brand names. “We’re branching into international markets now,” Nordt says. Heightened awareness of the health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in coldwater fish, help explain surging global demand for the company’s products, he says. Proximity to Wilmington International Airport also will benefit the company, whose Brooklyn-based parent company traces its corporate roots back four generations. “It will be quite convenient for our corporate folks to fly in and be at the plant within 15 minutes,” Nordt says.
“Constructing the company’s new production facility will cost about $25 million, with another $3 million to $5 million to be spent on equipment,” Nordt says. “We utilize stateof-the-art food safety technologies, and our facilities are certified under BRC global standards for food safety.” Workforce quality and training were thus key criteria in the company’s site search. “The community college programs we found there exceeded those of the other areas we looked at,” says Nordt. Cape Fear Community College will provide employee screening, orientation and customized worker training at no cost to RC Creations or its workers.
RC Creations is an ideal fit for Pender County’s consumer foods industry, which blends Greater Wilmington’s manufacturing prowess with vast, fertile farmlands in Pender and neighboring counties. “Modern food processing operations like this one generate technology-rich jobs,” says Bill King, chairman of WBD. “These are skilled positions in a secure, highly quality-controlled manufacturing environment,” he says. “And food is something that has consistent demand. It’s as close as we get to a recession-proof industry.”
Richard Nordt also credits the diligence and professionalism of WBD’s staff in facilitating his company’s choice of Pender County. The organization provides economic development services to Pender County via contract, complementing its work on behalf of job creation in New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington. “The support WBD gave us was unparalleled,” he says. “They were integral as intermediaries between us and the state and county.”
RC Creations will consume 20 acres at Pender Commerce Park, where it will be the anchor tenant. Another 400 acres remain available, and county leaders believe the company’s arrival is just the beginning. “Today’s great news is evidence that Pender County’s investment in high-quality industrial product is earning a real return,” said George Brown, chairman of the Pender County Board of Commissioners. An economic impact analysis of the new facility prepared by the Swain Center for Business and Economic Services at UNC Wilmington expects the processing facility will generate $55.8 million in annual economic output for the region. Pender County will realize $770,000 in annual revenues through property-tax collections. “This is a part of the county that really needs employment,” Brown says. In 2011, Coty Inc. closed its plant nearby, which at one time employed over 1,000 workers.
County officials developed Pender Commerce Park as an industrial property equipped with the assets and amenities today’s globally-oriented companies seek. It is located off U.S. Highway 421 and is equipped with industry-grade power, gas and telecommunications services. The Park also has enjoyed ready access to ample supplies of water since last fall, when the county completed build-out of a 2 MGD water treatment plant at the site. It is also now working on a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility there. “We have met – even exceeded – our expectations for the Park,” Brown says. “With the arrival of a major consumer foods company here and completion of our final pieces of infrastructure, the Park is set to welcome additional jobs and businesses.”
Scott Satterfield, CEO of Wilmington Business Development, calls the recruitment of RC Creations “the ultimate team effort.” The process of attracting the company began with a call to Satterfield from the economic development team at Duke Energy, which learned of the company’s site search. “Our allies at Duke Energy brought us a high-quality lead and we were able to match that with a high-quality property and some high-quality leadership from Pender County,” Satterfield says. He also credits Piedmont Natural Gas and AT&T Corporation for their work in providing industry-grade infrastructure at Pender Commerce Park. Support from the Golden LEAF Foundation was also key to equipping the Park with the necessary hard assets, Satterfield says.
Additional information about the company can be found at its website: www.acmesmokedfish.com.
Founded in 1956 as the Wilmington Committee of 100, Wilmington Business Development oversees business recruitment and industrial retention for the City of Wilmington, New Hanover County and Pender County. A private, non-profit organization [501(c)(6)], WBD also provides small-business financing to firms in the region through its U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 lending program. For additional information, visit www.wilmingtonbusinessdevelopment.com