ASHEBORO — What will be the encore after a year of unprecedented industrial development in Randolph County?
While celebrating Toyota Battery coming to the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite and Technimark announcing expansion to create 220 new jobs, the Randolph County Economic Development Corporation’s annual meeting addressed the question: What’s next?
The meeting was held Aug. 9 at Pinewood Country Club with representatives from business, government and education present. Scott Darr, outgoing chair of the EDC Board of Directors, and Bob Crumley, incoming chair, addressed the successes of the year and looked toward the future.
“2021-2022 was a success by any measure,” Darr said. “But we’re gearing up for more work, where we go from here.”
The biggest plum in economic development, not only for the year but the largest in the county’s history, was Toyota’s plan to invest $1.29 billion to build its first electric vehicle battery plant in North America.
The manufacturing facility will employ 1,750 workers in four production lines, each capable of producing 200,000 lithium-ion batteries annually. Production is planned to begin in 2025.
Technimark, an Asheboro-based global plastic injection molding manufacturer, announced plans to invest $62 million to expand its healthcare production operations while creating more than 200 jobs, which will increase its total workforce in the county to some 1,600. The company is currently the county’s largest private sector employer.
Other expansions announced during the fiscal year are Mickey Truck Bodies in Trinity, Kraftsman Trailers in Ramseur, Hafele America in Archdale and Aeolus Filter Corporation in Archdale.
For the 2021-2022 fiscal year, a total of 2,042 new jobs, investments exceeding $1.36 billion and economic development grants of $400,000 were reported in the county. Those investments will bear fruit within five years.
Despite all the good news, Darr said Randolph County is behind others in the region at providing shovel-ready industrial sites. There are sites in Archdale and Sophia that are being developed but many more locations are needed to attract business.
Crumley unveiled committees to find solutions to problems facing Randolph County.
Daniel Morris of Pinnacle Bank will head a group to create an inventory of potential industrial sites, utilizing public/private partnerships to prepare spec buildings to attract industry.
Another committee, chaired by Shelley Greene of Randolph Community College, will work to attract new workers to the county. Of particular interest will be military men and women leaving the Armed Services from bases such as Fort Bragg.
Other goals listed by Crumley include letting existing businesses know who the EDC is and how it can help them. He also wants the EDC to develop a five-year work plan that would take the county to the next level.
“These won’t be do-nothing committees,” Crumley said. “We have a lot on our plate but I’m excited about it. We’re ready to tackle the issues.”
Kevin Franklin, EDC president, introduced speakers from Technimark and Toyota to talk about their companies’ plans. Chris Clark of Technimark said their expansion will increase the company’s production of healthcare proponents.
Clark said Technimark has 12 global sites and more than 5,000 employees worldwide with annual revenues of $825 million. The company, he said, is No. 9 in its industry.
Recognizing the employees as critical to Technimark’s success, he said the company is committed to them. The company is also cognizant of its impact on communities, providing “little libraries,” and providing resources to Project Hope, United Way and the American Red Cross.
As the global headquarters of Technimark, Asheboro has an innovation center and five production plants, and pays wages above the Randolph County average.
Speaking for Toyota was Don Stewart, vice president of manufacturing in North Carolina.
He said the company’s first concern is to “create a safe worksite.” Once production begins in 2025, he said, they’ll provide batteries for hybrid vehicles, making cells and modules to ship to vehicle assembly plants.
Stewart said Toyota has 15 plants in North America and has built 42 million vehicles here. He said 75 percent of the company’s vehicles sold in America are built here.
So, what were Toyota’s criteria for selecting the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite? Stewart listed the close proximity to the supply chain, the high-quality education system and the diverse workforce. “The Megasite exceeds all our expectations,” he said.
Of great importance to his company, Stewart said, is “reducing carbon emissions.” Toyota plans to expand its fleet to 70 electrified models, with hybrids being a big part. Toyota is the top seller of hybrids in the United states, he said, adding that Toyota’s goal is for its vehicles in North America to be carbon neutral by 2030 and globally by 2050.
Grading of the Megasite began in January, the executive team began arriving in June and construction of the first building began in July. The leadership team should be on site this fall and hiring will begin next year. The first batteries will come off the production lines in 2025.
Franklin concluded the meeting, saying the assembled group had seen a “picture of really great things happening in the county. Stay tuned, there’s a lot more to come.”