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Laura Ullrich, senior regional economist for the Federal Reserve Bank in Richmond, Virginia, gave the keynote speech at the Randolph County Economic Development Corp. annual meeting.

$8.5+ billion in capital, 4,229 new jobs in county

ASHEBORO — Following the decision by Toyota Battery to locate at the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite near Liberty, more industries are coming and/or expanding in the county.


That was the news provided by Kevin Franklin, president of the Randolph County Economic Development Corporation, at its annual meeting on June 18. The gathering was held at the Harvest House event center east of Ramseur.


Franklin began his review of 2023-2024 with the closings of Klaussner Home Furnishings last August and Graphic Packaging, set to shut down in July. However, Franklin said, many of the 800-plus Klaussner employees have found new jobs.


The good news far exceeded the bad as 4,229 jobs are expected to be created by the $8,550,554,000 in new capital investment.


Toyota makes up the bulk of the capital while other companies are expanding:

— Jowat Corporation of Trinity will invest $2.33 million and create 12 new jobs.

— Amor Furniture has expanded its operations with the purchase of a former furniture factory in Staley.

— Pemmco Manufacturing is adding 15,000 square feet of production space.

— More recently, Ross Stores announced plans to locate at the I-74 Industrial Center in Randleman and invest $450 million to build a 1.7-million square foot distribution center, hiring some 852 workers. Government grants will help extend infrastructure to that area.


Other new facilities coming to Randolph County include:

— Structural Building Solutions and Axium Packaging, both in Archdale.

— Green Metals, Inc., will invest $19.8 million to support electric vehicle batter waste handling and recycling at Toyota Battery, creating 47 jobs.

— MD Mattress will locate in a vacant building in Archdale, investing $1.5 million and adding 47 jobs.

— Theodore Alexander has acquired the former United Furniture Industries property in Archdale with plans to consolidate its manufacturing, warehousing and distribution operations. 

— Carolina Pellet will site a new production facility in Archdale, create 20 jobs and invest $9 million.


“We couldn’t be happier with the activity we’ve seen,” Franklin said.


Following Franklin at the podium was keynote speaker Laura Ullrich, senior regional economist of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Her focus was on the future of work in America.


Ullrich said the nation’s GDP (gross domestic product) has seen continued growth as employment remains high as well as consumption. Statewide, Raleigh is leading growth, followed by Charlotte and Wilmington. 


Randolph County is far behind but with all the capital investments and future job growth, Ullrich said, “You guys will be up there soon.”


She said unemployment is at an all-time low, resulting in people having more money, which drives consumption. However, inflation remains more than the Federal Reserve’s goal of 2 percent.


“Real consumption spending has remained strong, even with inflation,” Ullrich said.


She said the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a drop in spending because people feared the future. But federal stimulus packages to businesses and consumers help get them back spending.


The global supply chain issues of COVID created shortages, adding to inflation. And while prices leveled off some in 2023, inflation has continued in 2024.


Economists say the nation needs 100,000 new jobs per month to keep up with the birth rate. For that reason, employers are more reluctant to let workers go. However, the Carolinas have been the strongest states in employment.


Ullrich said labor force participation hasn’t recovered since COVID. She called the Baby Boomer generation the wealthiest in history, but added that they tend to help their children/grandchildren with their living expenses which, in turn, discourages the younger generation from seeking full-time employment.


Ullrich said, “Five-point-five million want to work but are not working or looking for a job. Who are they?” Some, she said, are single mothers who can’t afford childcare or people unable to work due to mental or physical challenges.


She said robotics will take many lower-level jobs but other jobs with the advance in artificial intelligence (AI).