Prospectus Business & Industry
Halifax & Northampton Counties
The third edition of Prospectus Magazine features the business happenings of the Roanoke Valley—the status since last year and a look ahead at plans for the area’s growth in 2013. PUBLISHER Titus L. Workman
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EXECUTIVE EDITOR Stephen Hemelt
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EDITOR Kris Smith
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CIRCULATION Tammy Britt
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ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Carol Crittendon firstname.lastname@example.org (252) 537-2505 Ext. 225
Contributing Writers Della Rose, Jacqueline Hough, Roger Bell, Mark Mathews, Jonas Pope and Kris Smith Creative & Cover Design Hope Callahan Prospectus 916 Roanoke Ave., Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870 P.O. Box 520, Roanoke Rapids NC 27870 252-537-2505 • email@example.com Copyright 2012 Prospectus No portion of Prospectus may be reprinted in any form or posted on the Internet without the permission of the publisher.
County Convention & Visitors Bureau
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~EDITOR’S NOTE~ The Daily Herald will continue its focus on the Roanoke Valley business and industry news year-round with a new, special website feature. Readers can log onto www.rrdailyherald.com/prospectus for the latest updates in economic happenings that impact Halifax and Northampton counties. In addition to the stories included in this special magazine, updates concerning expansions, new developments, and municipal and county moves focused on Valley development will be conveniently located in one spot — www.rrdailyherald.com/prospectus.
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PCB Piezotronics Inc.
Growth continues for PCB Impact Hammer
PCB force sensor 208C01
The stability is also a sign management is pleased with the performance of employees. No surprise with Gang’s response when asked about HALIFAX — When the Halifax branch of PCB Piezothose working at the manufacturing plant. He had nothtronics Inc. opened in August of 2005 the company hired ing but high praise. 48 employees to work at the plant. “We have a great staff,” Gang said. “I never say we Fast-forward slightly more than seven years, and that have a lot of good people working here. I always say we number has grown to 162. have a lot of great people working here. There is little “We have grown every year,” General Manager of the automation. The quality of the products show the people Halifax plant Allen Gang said. “In 2011 alone we added working here really care.” 43 employees. We always expect to grow annually in PCB may not see the growth in 2013 it had 2011, but our number of employees, but I don’t foresee anything there is no question PCB has made a big economic major in 2013. We are readily expandable. We have impact in the Roanoke Valley. KapStone, of Roanoke plans to expand and add another building, but I don’t Rapids, is one of the companies doing a significant know when that is going to happen.” amount of business with PCB, purchasing sensors from Gang moved to the Roanoke Valley to work as an enthe plant. gineer at the plant in 2005. He was promoted to general PCB Piezotronics was founded in 1967 in upstate New manager three years ago. York and grew from a family business into the world’s Gang would not release information on wage scales largest manufacturer of transducers, specializing in lab for employees, but he did say the company pays good and industrial grade sensor production. As the company wages and is known for rewarding long-term employees. has grown, so has its product. In fact, the turnover rate for employees is approximately “Our product line is always increasing and our technolone percent annually. The retention rate of employees ogies are always expanding,” Gang said. “Just last year points to stability in the Halifax manufacturing plant. alone we had $1 million worth of equipment upgrades BY Mark Mathews
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PCB Piezotronics, of Halifax, has grown more than 300 percent in the number of workers it employs since 2005.
in our building. Business really picked up two years ago. We are into automotive, medical and industrial, as well as aerospace defense.” PCB is heavily involved in national defense, making products for the aerospace and defense industries. Approximately 60 percent of products manufactured at the plant are sold in the United States. Forty percent of PCB products are sold internationally. Though PCB exports a high number of products, Gang was quick to point out all of its products are made in the U.S. PCB Piezotronics also impacts the area by providing quality jobs to Roanoke Valley residents.
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Halifax Regional expanding patient care BY ROGER BELL
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ROANOKE RAPIDS—With a multi-million-dollar renovation complete, Halifax Regional is continuing to work on its facility in order to continue improving patient care. With 2012 nearly at a close, the facility has had a big year, completing the $6.5 million expansion of the Outpatient Care area inside the hospital, as well as the Emergency Room parking lot. Improvements include better counseling areas, improved waiting areas and expanded surgical facilities, according to Halifax Regional President Will Mahone. “These renovations are to help us maintain our competitive facility,” Mahone said. “Where we are really growing is in our outpatient needs and that’s what our expansion addressed.” The parking renovations help separate outpatient needs from emergency needs, and inside, Mahone said, the number of pre-op rooms doubled, with the recovery area getting 3,000 additional square feet. As the renovation was under way, the facility also upgraded to digital mammography, a $650,000 project funded by the Halifax Regional Foundation, an organization dedicated solely to funding the non-profit facility’s capital needs. Geoffrey Hardee, of the Foundation, said of the $650,000 in pledges raised to pay for the digital mammography center, almost $125,000 came from Halifax Regional employees, not counting physicians. “It says a lot that our employees care this much to participate in this effort,” Hardee said. “Especially in an economy like this when times are tight. I think we really have a bunch of super people here.” With this renovation finished, Halifax Regional began work on the main lobby Oct. 29, with the work scheduled to finish Nov. 26. As this work goes on, patients and visitors will be entering through the Outpatient Area and will have access to service elevators, the birthing center, joint care center and other elevators. All this is being done to continue improving one of the Roanoke Valley’s largest economic engines. Halifax Regional employs around 1,000 people and, according to Mahone, has a $36 million payroll. “We buy $10 million a year in supplies,” Mahone said. “We are a very large company, and as such, we have a very direct impact on the economy.” Dr. Mike Walden, who holds the North Carolina State’s Distinguished William J. Reynolds Professorship in economics, said
Outpatient check-in and counseling offices are part of the $6.5 million expansion at Halifax Regional.
This skylight over the new hallway at Halifax Regional was designed to allow as much natural light as possible in the new area.
payroll numbers are subject to what he called the Rule of Two, meaning doubling the payroll number gives an accurate measure of economic impact. By those numbers, Halifax Regional would carry a $72 million impact annually in the Roanoke Valley. Mahone said the simple act of hiring a new physician at the hospital carries the same impact as a small business opening. To bolster this, he said physicians usually have 15 jobs attached to each one of them, so one hire actually leads to the generation of 15 jobs. “There have been times the hospital has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring physicians here,” Mahone said. “But beyond an economic context, they help build our community.”
Roanoke Rapids Finance Director MeLinda Hite said the facility has $44 million in property investment, meaning the tax benefits for the city are enormous. She added its resources and location add value to the city on many levels, as well. Beyond those dollars and cents, Mahone said he meets personally with every new employee in order to help drive home what’s really important to the hospital and the community. “I tell them, these aren’t just patients we treat here, and they aren’t,” Mahone said. “They are neighbors, family members and people we love. They have the highest expectations of us, and we have to return the commitment to them.”
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Halifax Corporate Park
700-acre attraction for development BY Della Rose
HALIFAX—Competing for jobs globally is the priority for Halifax County’s Economic Development team. With that in mind, they are pushing forward with efforts to increase the attractiveness of the county’s 700-acre Corporate Park, located off Highway 561 in Halifax. Located next door to Halifax-Northampton Regional Airport and already with an extensive list of enhancements, Halifax County Economic Development Director Cathy Scott said the county is studying the addition of rail service to the Park’s amenities. “We need to know if extension is indeed an option and the potential cost,” she said. Scott said other possible future enhancements include signage, a Free Trade Zone designation, which would encourage foreign trade in Halifax County and a potential rail transloading facility, which would provide a transitional area for products being shipped using two or more modes of transportation. Since the land purchase in 2007, county upgrades including water, sewer, natural gas and telecommunications have made the Park an attractive site for companies involved in things
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like manufacturing, warehousing and distribution operations. Scott said one upgrade — the 12-inch “mega” sewer line — provides capacity for one million gallons per day of wastewater treatment. Empire Foods broke ground on its food processing facility located at the Park last year, and expects to bring about 300 new jobs to the area when the facility is completed. According to Scott, the Park’s proximity to Interstate 95 and ports of North Carolina and Virginia make it even more attractive. Recently, the North Carolina Department of Commerce approved the Halifax Corporate Park as a “certified” industrial park, which means it met 31 prerequisite standards. It was reviewed by professional engineers and other specialists, who looked at environmental site studies, topographical analysis, geotechnical studies and a multitude of other assessments and tests. Scott said the designation allows the park to be showcased as a premium “client-ready” site. “Having a certified industrial park is critical in competing for new jobs and investment,” Scott said, adding companies want properties that can be developed quickly.
Scott said Park certification didn’t come without challenges. She said while there was access to water, sewer wasn’t readily available. It was determined the best option to provide sewer was to connect with the Roanoke Rapids Sanitary District line at Carolina Crossroads, but costs were estimated at $5.4 million. In late 2009, the county began working with Reser’s Fine Foods to overcome obstacles for their East Coast Expansion project. “Our success in locating Reser’s planned expansion helped us secure funding to extend the Sanitary District’s line to Reser’s,” Scott said. “Then, in working with Empire Foods, Halifax County was able to secure the remaining funding needed to extend sewer from Reser’s to the Halifax Corporate Park at a total cost of $4.3 million. This project was completed in July of this year.” Scott said the county’s economic development commission frequently markets Halifax Corporate Park for larger industrial projects to the N.C. Department of Commerce and utilizes its membership to other economic development groups, including Friends of North Carolina, social media and the Internet as marketing tools for the Park and other county sites.
he New Year will mark Chowan’s 165th anniversary, and we’ve already started celebrating! • Chowan’s best undergraduate enrollment since 1971 • Ribbon-cutting opening the Whites Crossing Suites to accommodate the growing student population • The new Wayland L. Jenkins, Jr. Fine Arts Center brings a rich metropolitan-style gallery to our historic campus • Groundbreaking for the construction of a new championship tennis complex, maintenance facility and state-of-the-art football center There is a sense of excitement and anticipation of what is and what is to come...
Faith in your future. Chowa
Murfreesboro, NC • www.chowan.edu • 1 (888) 4-CHOWAN
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Safetlite Auto Glass Corporation
For 42 years, the Safelite Glass Corp. manufacturing facility in Enfield has helped the company serve as the nation’s largest exclusively domestic producer of original equipment equivalent windshields for aftermarket.
Local Company not only providing jobs but community services to the Roanoke Valley BY Jacqueline Hough
ENFIELD — In 1970, The Safelite Glass Corp. manufacturing facility in Enfield started with 81,700 square feet. Forty-two years later, a 160,000 square feet facility helps the company serve as the nation’s largest exclusively domestic producer of original equipment equivalent windshields for aftermarket. Shift Manager Evan Taylor said the company manufactures about 650 different types of windshields. “Safelite Manufacturing is the ninth largest industry in Halifax County,” he said. Each day, three shifts make 5,600 windshields a day. “We work 24 hours a day, five days a week,” he said. The facility employs 300 people, which includes hourly, engineering and management supervisors. Taylor said they have been steady in keeping employees. In 2010, a distribution center in Enfield moved to Braselton, Ga. Since then, another center has opened in Ontario, Calif. “We didn’t have enough space at the time,” Taylor said. “It
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Louis Wester takes a windshield off of the cutting and painting line conveyer belt and stacks it with others at The Safelite Glass Corp. manufacturing facility in Enfield.
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Auto Clave operator Douglas Gary puts several windshields in the machine.
was the only distribution center for the whole United States. In order to expand, we moved the distribution to Braselton and opened the one in Ontario.” The move expanded capacity in Enfield, which allows for storage of 250,000 windshields and 90,000 other vehicle glass parts. “Now we produce windshields for the majority of the East Coast in the United States,” Taylor said. In 2011, the company achieved 1,529,562 man hours without a lost-time accident. In recent years, the company has added two robotic unloaders at the end of two of the cutting and painting lines. “They pick up windshields as they come off the conveyer belt and stack them in the racks,” Taylor said. In addition to providing jobs for the Roanoke Valley, associates at the facility are encouraged to participate in local school and community activities. “Safelite gives every associate eight hours paid time to go volunteer,” Taylor said. “Associates love it. We have a lot of participation in this.” This goes to the heart of the company’s mission. The mission: “As a stakeholder in our children’s education, it is our mission to help local schools set standards of achievement and to help deliver the knowledge and skills students will need to respond to a changing future.” Taylor said they do a lot of community activities ranging from giving presentations on Career Days to giving out school supplies at a Back-to-School Bash. A big activity is helping the students at Inborden Elementary School. “We have sent associates to Inborden to help with proctoring the End-of-Grade tests and some help with tutoring,” Taylor said. Throughout the year, associates hold fundraisers at the facility such as Friday car washes to help raise money. Taylor said to help associates learn more about the Roanoke Valley, some have been participating with Leadership Roanoke Valley through the Roanoke Valley Chamber of Commerce. “We are trying to improve associates by showing them what is happening in the Roanoke Valley,” Taylor said.
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KapStone Kraft Paper Corporation Roanoke Rapids Mill
Quality times at KapStone
Bill Kessinger, vice president of Mill Operations at KapStone, center, sits with the United Way/Consolidated Charities Team.
New leadership, safety record, community involvement highlight positive outlook for Roanoke Rapids mainstay BY Kris Smith
ROANOKE RAPIDS—2012 brought a new leader and much to be proud with employee safety, community involvement and a positive outlook at the KapStone Kraft Paper Corporation Roanoke Rapids Mill. Bill Kessinger, vice president of Mill Operations at KapStone, returned to the local paper mill and began his leadership role Sept. 1. “I was here for 21 years, left for 18 months and came back,” Kessinger said. “I transferred with KapStone to a mill in South Carolina, and when Anitra Collins resigned, I was asked to come back.” Originally from a paper mill in West Point, Va., Kessinger has been in the paper industry for 30 years. When asked how his new role at his former/present place of business was going since his restart date, Kessinger said it has been great. 14 | PROSPECTUS
Bill Kessinger is vice president of Mill Operations at KapStone Kraft Paper Corporation in Roanoke Rapids.
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Bill Kessinger, vice president of Mill Operations at KapStone, right, talks with Mill Operations Manager Ben White.
“We had our annual shut down in October, and it was successful,” he said. The shutdown is done to work on the main blowers that produce steam, as well as working on the systems common to the entire mill. Also at this time, Kessinger said, general maintenance is done — including inspections and repairs. The annual shutdown lasts about 10 days. “The biggest accomplishment has been the employees worked 294 days without an injury — a record for the mill,” Kessinger said. “It is indicative of how seriously each employee takes their safety and the safety of their coworkers.” KapStone employs about 500 people. “The mill has been around for 105 years, so it and the Roanoke Valley are interwoven,” Kessinger said. “The employees are such a key part of the mill’s success. The employees are very active in the community, church groups, coaches of sports teams — it’s all tied together. We are very proud to be a part of the Roanoke Valley.” The Roanoke Rapids KapStone mill recently kicked off its United Way campaign. In addition, Kessinger said Kap16 | PROSPECTUS
Stone is proud to be involved with the community’s efforts to bring digital mammography to the area. Looking ahead, Kessinger hit on what allows KapStone to continue its momentum. “One of the reasons the mill has been successful and viable for so long is the employees understand we have to satisfy our customers, and in order to do so, we have to sustain our products and customer service,” Kessinger said. He explained the mill makes products that go into packaging, and employees try to make products that are stronger than their competition. Doing so allows KapStone’s customers to make better packaging products, such as pet food bags, cardboard boxes, etc. The Roanoke Rapids mill was first acquisitioned by KapStone Corporation in January 2007. Since then, KapStone added a mill in Charleston, S.C., in 2008 and one in Cowpens, S.C., in 2011. “The Roanoke Rapids mill is an important and strategic part of KapStone, and is doing well and is strong financially,” Kessinger said.
Illuka bringing new opportunities to the area
Linda Nyborg, from left Peter Morse, John Deloach and Adam Kars examine local resources.
BY JONAS POPE
AURELIAN SPRINGS — There might not be gold in those hills, but there is something worth digging for in Aurelian Springs. Something that residents of Halifax County will benefit from a great deal. Illuka Resources has made a home in the Roanoke Valley and with the company settling in, business should be booming in the future, helping the economy in the area. Illuka is the second largest producer of titanium minerals and is the world’s largest producer of zircon. They have been working with land owners in Aurelian Springs to determine the economic feasibility of establishing surface mining operations in that area. According to its website, Illuka is an Australian Aboriginal word meaning, “where the sea meets the sand.” Illuka has been mining titanium based materials since the 1950s. In 2009, Illuka was named the Business of the Year by the Emporia-Greensville Chamber of Commerce. Illuka began mining in nearby Virginia in 1998 before making its way down to North Carolina. With Illuka in the area, the Roanoke Valley will see many benefits. “In the states we are given $8 million to study,” Illuka President Matthew Blackwell said. “We will spend about $90 million. With our economic assessment, we will bring about $18 million a year
to Halifax County.” Blackwell said the presence of Illuka will not only benefit land owners, but also businesses, estimating local retail stores sales will increase in Halifax County by $3.5 million per year. Illuka has an office based in Roanoke Rapids, currently doing community relations and project management. Blackwell predicts once the company gets fully functional in the area, Illuka will bring “229 direct jobs” to the Roanoke Valley. He also said there will be an additional 79 jobs in operations. “The unemployment rate would reduce 1 percent in Halifax just from the project,” Blackwell said. Blackwell said two groups that have already helped out Illuka have been the Roanoke Valley Chamber of Commerce and Halifax Horizons. He said they have also received a lot of support from local charities. “Our focus has been on securing the land from the farmers,” Blackwell said. “We expect to spend $3.5 million from now until around June of (2013).” And with Illuka around, Blackwell hopes everyone can enjoy the benefits. “We are really excited about the jobs this will create,” he said. “The average wage will be 60 percent higher than the county average.”
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The Royal Palace
A crowd lines up outside The Royal Palace Theatre opening night, Sept. 12, 2012.
Theater hopes to unveil consistant, steady growth BY ROGER BELL
ROANOKE RAPIDS—It’s been a fast start for The Royal Palace Theatre, and the leadership is confident it is only going to get better. Jay Hickey, a partner in HSV Entertainment LLC, the Arkansas-based firm that’s been leasing the building formerly known as The Roanoke Rapids Theatre since August, said things are going well at the facility and they’ve gotten into a good pattern of offering shows at a steady rate. “We’ve got something booked every weekend, either Friday or Saturday of every weekend, for the next three months,” Hickey said. Upcoming shows include The Oak Ridge Boys Christmas Spectacular Dec. 7, Jason Michael Carroll and Parmalee Dec. 15, Craig Woolard New Year’s Eve Bash Dec. 31, and .38 Special, booked for May 3. Theater Manager Kaine Riggan said he’s excited so many of the shows have come together so quickly, although he admits selling tickets has been challenging due to the short turnaround 18 | PROSPECTUS
times. “You usually have a year or so to advertise your shows on your website,” Riggan said. “That helps with advance ticket sales, because people see a show date well in advance, several months in advance, and put it on their calendars. We just opened, and you’re talking about cutting out about half your ticket sales by not being able to put shows out there in advance.” Riggan said established performance centers such as the Durham Performing Arts Center send out mailers and do other advanced marketing for shows eight to 12 months in advance. Even though the shows put on so far have sold well, Riggan said being able to market in advance for future shows will continue to improve the theater’s performance. “Getting started in mid-summer would have been better than starting in late summer like we did,” Hickey said, addressing the short turnaround times. The facility’s size also represents challenges, but Riggan said as the reputation of the theater grows, filling about 800 seats per show with some shows selling out will be the normal business. So far, Hickey said, 75 percent of the theater’s business has come from North Carolina, with 40 percent of that coming from the Roanoke Valley. The other 25 percent has been Virginia business, which they hope to bring to the Palace in greater numbers once advance marketing efforts really kick into high gear and the promotional area for the Palace expands. To put these shows on, Hickey said, the Palace employs 33 full-time employees and 20 contract staff, which includes police and security. These employees participate in the theater’s primary use as a showplace and its accessory use as an Internet gaming facility. While some negative pressure accompanied the announcement HSV would use Internet sweepstakes machines as a source of income for the Palace, Hickey said since they opened Sept. 12 there has not been any negative feedback in the building or out in the community. Hickey said that use has grown as time has passed, as well, and Riggan said the sweepstakes have helped keep the theater going. “I think people understand that theater-only has not been a successful venture in this building,” Riggan said. “So it needed another revenue stream. There are 1,500 seats in this building and only 200 machines, so clearly the focus is on selling seats.”
Royal Palace Theatre Manager Kaine Riggan at his desk in the building.
As for the theater’s future, Hickey said there are no plans to expand the gaming operations, and he said it’s still too early to know if HSV will exercise its option to purchase the theater, which it has two years to do. “The purchase of a facility like this requires the numbers to be in line with the purchase price,” Hickey said. “It’s still too early to tell if that’s the case. But we are just as committed to the project as we were when we first started here.” For more information on the theater or upcoming shows, visit royalpalacetheatre.com.
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Halifax County Convention & Visitors Bureau
Halifax County a premier destination for family reunions BY Jacqueline Hough
Word of mouth and its website has helped the Halifax County Convention & Visitors Bureau become an affordable and convenient destination for family reunions. Lori Medlin, Halifax County CVB president/CEO, said there is a long tradition of hospitality and family gatherings in the county. “We are proud to promote our area, as a premier destination for family reunions, hosting families along the entire Eastern seaboard,” she said. Based on reports from area hotels, Medlin estimated tourism spending from family reunions in Halifax County to be well in excess of $250,000 annually. At VisitHalifax.com, there is a page for groups and a flier about services offered for family reunions. Gloria Cotton, of Papillion, Neb., and her two sisters — Barbara Goldston, of Atlanta, and Audrey Sexton, of Sierra Vista, Ariz. — used this when planning their family reunion for 96 people, which was held in August. Cotton admitted it was a big challenge because the Edwards-Suiter reunion was planned by three people who didn’t live in the area or state. The reunion was the first time in 13 years family members from Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and Delaware all got together. “Our parents are deceased, but our mom’s sister (Helen Suiter) lives here in 20 | PROSPECTUS
In the last three years, Halifax County Convention & Visitors Bureau personnel have worked hard to become a destination for family reunions held in the area. For any family or class reunion held, staff sets up a cookie and lemonade welcome.
Rich Square,” Goldston said. It was decided by the family to plan the reunion around Suiter. As the sisters searched online to find a venue, and while doing this, the Halifax County CVB name and number popped up. Cotton called it and started answering various questions asked by the staff about types of equipment needed, hotel arrangements and others. “I called my sisters and told them we went through all of this when we could have called one number,” Cotton said. Christina Wells, director of Tourism
Development and Marketing at Halifax County CVB, said when reunions are being planned, people are looking for a good local, one-stop shopping point. It is something officials at the Halifax County CVB have narrowed the focus on the last three to four years,” she said. “We have seen a spike in family reunions.” Wells noted the Edwards-Suiter reunion used a variety of resources in the county. In addition to using the Hilton Garden Inn as a place for the families to stay, Cot-
ton said it was the site of the reunion Meet and Greet. The American Legion building was where they had a barbecue. The family hired an area caterer, tent company, DJ and videographer/photographer. “We help families find local resources,” Wells said. Connecting families with resources is just one way Halifax County CVB is involved. Other services include a complimentary welcome reception, welcome goody bags, assistance with hotel arrangements including group blocks/discounts, trip planning, tailored itineraries and discount coupons for restaurants and attractions. “Word of mouth is great advertising,” Wells said. “If one family reunion is good, the word is spread.” Halifax County CVB Chairman Gene Minton said reunions have a significant impact on Halifax County because visitors with reunions do a variety of things. “In addition, they often have down time to visit area attractions and make other purchases, including souvenirs and fuel,” Minton said. To learn more about the services offered, call 252-5351687 or 1-800-522-4282 and visit www.visithalifax.com.
Jacqueline Hough | The Daily Herald Plans for the Edwards-Suiter Family reunion were focused on Helen Suiter, center, of Rich Square, with her three nieces, from left, Audrey Sexton, of Sierra Vista, Ariz., Barbara Goldston, of Atlanta, and Gloria Cotton, of Papillion, Neb.
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LSA facing obstacles but on right heading
BY Della Rose
LITTLETON — Despite an immigration hangup with engineers from Czech Republic, Littleton-based LSA America is set to expand its workforce in 2013 and move into a new facility by the end of next year. LSA America produces the popular light-sport aircraft Allegro. The modestly priced and pleasant-flying Czech design is now Made-in-theUSA in North Carolina and compared favorably to the Cessna. It’s a oneor two-occupant, single-engine aircraft with high performance and quality but low operating and maintenance costs. It also costs about one-third the price of the Cessna. In April 2011, Gov. Beverly Perdue announced LSA America’s plans to open its Littleton facility. The company would create 34 new jobs and invest $400,000 in the next three years. However, according to LSA owner Doug Hempstead, federal immigration red tape decreased his ability to produce planes by about half since he opened.
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Hempstead said originally plans were to bring engineers from the LSA company that was purchased in the Czech Republic to train local workers in the manufacturing process. The company could have easily produced 12 planes in 2012, but when immigration laws prevented most of those engineers from entering the country, Hempstead said he had no choice but to cut production despite the orders being there. He was also unable to hire as many employees. “There’s no use taking the orders if you can’t produce them,” Hempstead said. The good news, according to Hempstead, is those obstacles are actively being overcome, and eight to 10 new employees should be hired in the early part of 2013. Hempstead said he is finalizing contracts that will ship at least 10 of the light sport aircraft to China starting next year, and the company has the option to sell more to the country at their own discretion.
He said up until this point, China has only allowed licensing to fly planes on a military and limited commercial level, but country leaders are opening that up to the public, making light sport air crafts a desirable commodity. “Instead of products saying ‘Made in China,’ we will be sending planes over there that say ‘Made in the USA,’” he said. Hempstead said Halifax County leaders, economic development leaders, the airport authority and Halifax Community College have gone out of their way to help his company move toward success. “HCC was a real partner with LSA,” he said, explaining there was no one in the area who knew how to weld chromoly steel — a critical component in Allegro production. Business & Industry Coordinator/Instructor Larry Crisafulli said the community college was happy to help. “Welding differs, depending on the metal,” Crisafulli said, adding special techniques had to be learned. He researched the area and found an expert who works in NASCAR to train employees and HCC instructors in the LSA facility. “We accomplished our goals,” said Crisafulli, adding two students in the welding program were hired immediately by LSA. While it’s taking a little extra time to get the company up to speed, Hempstead is confident things will be back on track by the end of 2013, when the company will move into its new location at the Halifax-Northampton Regional Airport. Airport Authority Chairman David King said the airport authority feels LSA is a perfect fit for the industrial space Chris Jenkins, left, and James Simmons trained with Halifax Community available at the regional airport. College for jobs with LSA. “We’re hoping it will spur added aerospace economic development in the corporate park across the runway at the airport,” he said.
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HALIFAX COUNTY NORTH CAROLINA
“You’re in good company” LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
• Interstate 95 • US 158 • US 301 • Easy access to Interstate 85 • Regional Economic Hub
• Minutes from Interstate 95 • 5,500 foot runway • Adjacent to Halifax Corporate Park
HALIFAX CORPORATE PARK
• 700 Acres just minutes from 1-95 • Perfectly positioned for manufacturing/distribution • NC Certified Industrial Park
AVAILABLE INDUSTRIAL SITES & BUILDINGS • Heavy industrial sites • Rail access • Buildings ready for occupancy
QUALITY INFRASTRUCTURE • Ready to Serve • Ready To Grow
EXCELLENT QUALITY OF LIFE
• Shopping, Recreation, Arts & Entertainment • Halifax Regional Medical Center • Gaston Lake • Roanoke Rapids Lake • Roanoke River
STATE AND LOCAL INCENTIVES LOTS OF GOOD COMPANY
Kapstone • Safelite Glass • Weldon Steel • Nash Brick • Kennametal • Patch Rubber • Halifax Linen • Flambeau • Reser’s Fine Foods • Pelican Packaging • Driver Trucking • PCB Piezotronics • Airboss • AAA Carolinas • Aunt Ruby’s Peanuts • Don Pancho Authentic Mexican Foods • and more! XNLV60273
HALIFAX COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION 260 Premier Boulevard • Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870 Phone: 252-519-2630 Fax: 252-519-2632 E-Mail: hdc@halifaxdevelopment Website: www.halifaxdevelopment.com