North Carolina Economic Development Guide


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Will AND DeNi MciNtyre Above, Ashley will store furniture and components in former R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. warehouses. Left, plans called for the distribution center to open frst, followed by a manufacturing operation. called itself the furniture capital of the world ��� especially for Davie County, where manufacturing is still the largest employer, though 2,000 of those jobs disappeared during the last decade or so, says Terry Bralley, president of the county���s Economic Development Commission. ���We were pretty typical for this area, with a lot of tobacco, textiles and furniture jobs. The Piedmont probably lost more jobs than anywhere in the state because of the large amount of manufacturers.��� Ashley started distribution operations there in the fall, the frst step in a project that could create 1,100 jobs within a decade. ���They have a great business model and a lot of stability. People here need jobs, and this is something they know how to do.��� The annual payroll, estimated at $15.5 million once manufacturing cranks up, ���will feed a lot of families,��� Bralley says. Though Davie had the lowest unemployment rate in the 12-county Pied38 North Carolina Economic Development Guide mont Triad region last summer ��� 8.5% in July, according to the N.C. Department of Commerce, below the state rate of 9.7% that month ��� 60% of the workforce commutes to jobs outside the mostly rural county. Ashley���s presence will provide work closer to home. It will also have a ripple effect, says Al Bolton, a furniture industry veteran who is vice president of economic development for Piedmont Triad Regional Partnership. ���They are probably the best company our region could have hoped for and wanted. They���re No. 1 in furniture manufacturing worldwide and soon to be the No. 1 retailer in North America. I hope for this decade that facility will provide a great launching pad for other companies to take a look at our region. And I think it���s going to help rebuild the supply chain in the Piedmont Triad.��� Despite his own company���s growth, Wanek has seen the domestic furniture industry shrink, with several hundred

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