The Catawba County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) made two major economic announcements this week. One of them involves a billion dollar investment in technology facilities by Microsoft.
On Tuesday (Nov. 8th) Pregis, a manufacturer and provider of innovative and protective packaging products, announced plans to expand its existing manufacturing facility in Newton where it produces temporary protective films. Over the next three years, Pregis plans to create 10 new jobs and invest more than $11 million in new production lines and building improvements. Salaries for the new employees will vary by position, but the new positions will meet Catawba County’s average annual wage of $48,028.
The manufacturing facility in Newton has been producing water-based acrylic adhesives for use in the automotive, transportation, building and construction, and other industrial markets since the early 1990s. Pregis operates more than two dozen North American facilities – two of which are located in North Carolina – and additional manufacturing operations across Europe. Pregis employs 67 people at its local Newton facility as part of an international workforce of more than 3,000.
The renovation project includes a facility expansion to accommodate the installation of new manufacturing equipment, as well as warehouse space.
"We are proud to be adding new, high-quality manufacturing jobs to the area while offering our valued employees continued growth opportunities," said Mike Beckman, president of Pregis PolyMask. “Our operation has thrived in Newton as a result of the employee base here, and we are thrilled to invest and grow our presence in Catawba County.”
The much larger announcement came late Wednesday afternoon (Nov. 9th) when leaders from Catawba County government, the cities of Conover and Hickory, the town of Maiden, and the EDC heard details of Microsoft's plans to invest a billion dollars in developing four data centers in Catawba County. Apple already has a data center near Maiden and one of Microsoft's new facilities will also be there. The Maiden site will be located on approximately 292 acres north of W. Maiden Rd. and west of Zeb Haynes Rd.
Two of the sites will be in Hickory: one on approximately 160 acres west of US 321 adjacent to Hickory-Lincolnton Hwy. and on approximately 16 acres on Tate Blvd.
The fourth will be on approximately 219 acres north of Conover on NC Hwy 16. This location includes the multi-jurisdictional NCDataCampus site, which has long been planned as a potential location for multiple technology facilities.
“Today’s Microsoft project announcement is a direct result of the Catawba County Economic Development Corporation’s long-time, multi-jurisdictional plan to drive technology development in Catawba County,” said Dr. Garrett Hinshaw, Catawba County EDC board chair and president of Catawba Valley Community College. “We are pleased Microsoft has become part of the cadre of companies that have chosen to grow their technology operations here, and we remain committed to being an exceptional partner for the technology sector in the future.”
“The Town of Maiden is pleased to provide a welcoming home for Microsoft,” said Maiden Mayor Max Bumgarner, Jr. “We understand the unique needs of Microsoft, and we are well prepared to support their success here and across the county in the years to come.”
Economic development agreements and incentive grants for the project were approved at a joint meeting Wednesday of the Catawba County Board of Commissioners and the elected councils of Conover, Hickory and Maiden. Additionally, the Catawba County Property Development Corporation board approved the sale of the NCDataCampus site during the meeting.
Terms include a guaranteed minimum investment in Catawba County of $1 billion and in each municipality of $332 million, with an additional $33 million to Hickory for its second site, over 10 years.
“We are very appreciative of the continued investment Pregis is making in Catawba County and the company’s efforts to strategically position the Newton facility to meet the demands of today’s rapidly-changing economy,” said Randy Isenhower, chair, Catawba County Board of Commissioners. “At the local government level, we try to do our part as well, positioning our local companies for success by ensuring we maintain a low, stable tax rate while investing in infrastructure and educational opportunities that can produce the quality of talent demanded by companies like Pregis.”
“We are thrilled to see Pregis making a significant investment in Newton and creating new jobs in our community,” Mayor Eddie Haupt said. “The benefits of the new, high-tech manufacturing jobs they are creating will ripple through Newton and Catawba County. We look forward to continuing to partner with Pregis as they invest in Newton and grow.”
“This great announcement about the expansion of the Pregis production facility joins more than $358 million and more than 875 jobs announced by Catawba County companies over the last year,” said Dr. Garrett Hinshaw, chair of Catawba County EDC. “Our community and the EDC prioritize assisting our existing industries, to tap into valuable resources, develop solutions to lingering problems or assist with growth opportunities like this expansion. This announcement further solidifies this commitment.”
Pregis plans to hire a variety of employees for the new manufacturing operation in areas of production and process engineering. Hiring opportunities will be posted on the company’s website, https://www.pregis.com/careers, in the future.
Local incentives were considered and approved at recent public hearings by the Newton City Council (November 1st) and Catawba County Board of Commissioners (November 7th).