Looking back: Industrial corporation offers stock

Published 10:26 am Friday, July 12, 2013

EDITOR’S NOTE: Looking Back features past articles from The Tidewater News with commentary by local historian Clyde Parker.

JULY 12, 1963

The newly formed Franklin Industrial Corporation is seeking stockholders. The Corporation, whose main objective is to attract new industry to Franklin, is a project, and an offshoot, of the Franklin Chamber of Commerce.

In a letter to prospective stockholders, R. Ashby Rawls, President, said the stock will be issued at a common $10.00 par value per share.

“At this time,” Rawls said, “our activity will be limited to being ready to assist any industry that might be brought to the area. The Tidewater Virginia Development Council (TVDC) and the Virginia Industrial Development Corporation are continually contacting prospective businesses and exploring leads. We will partner with those organizations in our efforts to bring in new industry,” he said.

Rawls also said that in order to induce industry to locate in this area it might be necessary to provide sites and buildings on a long-term lease basis.

A recent TVDC survey of the Franklin area showed that there are at least ten good sites available in or in close proximity to Franklin.

One site in particular is being promoted. Approximately 30 acres located in the P. R. Camp tract, just south of Franklin on U. S. Route 258 is available for development.

Franklin is blessed with two major railroads: Seaboard Airline Railroad and Norfolk, Franklin and Danville Railway, an affiliate of Norfolk and Western Railway. Franklin Municipal Airport is just across the river from Franklin. Also, Franklin is at the intersection of two major highways – U. S. Routes 58 and 258. And, Franklin is not far from the Ports in Norfolk and Portsmouth.


Franklin residents will vote next week and decide whether the City will have a redevelopment and housing authority. If approved, a five man housing authority will be created and a paid expert executive will probably be hired to lead the organization. However, the City Council will hold the purse strings on any money that the authority proposes to spend.

Detailed plans and surveys will have to be made. Public hearings will be held at every important step along the way. For any approved projects, the Federal Government will pay 75 percent and the City will pay 25 percent.

An out-of-town consulting firm has cited three main areas as targets for redevelopment. They are: Berkley, a mostly residential area behind Franklin High School from Hill Street toward the National Guard Armory; two acres in downtown Franklin, one between South Main Street and Mechanic Street, near Pretlow Peanut Company; and a large area between South Street and Hayden High School.

A 34-acre tract of land, near Hayden and owned by the Camp Foundation, is available for re-housing.

Before a family or business can be displaced from their property, a suitable and acceptable replacement, within the means of the family or business, must be provided.

Residents of the Berkley area have mixed reactions about their proposed redevelopment project. Some are for it. A few are against it. And, many are uninformed about it.

One resident on Marshall Street said she was against it because she didn’t think her family would get a “fair shake” out of it. She and her husband own their home and it is paid for. “We don’t want to get into debt for another house,” she said.

A resident on Jefferson Street, sitting on the porch of his neat and freshly painted rental house, said he was completely informed about the project and intended to vote in favor of it.

A few doors down the street, a group of people said they hadn’t heard much about redevelopment except “they” (the authorities) were going to tear down their houses.

When the basic plan was more clearly explained to those who made comments, they were more in favor of it although it was still unclear if all of them are eligible to vote.

The Berkley area covers 22 acres and contains 157 families, living in 126 houses. Thirty of the houses are blighted, fifty-six are questionable and forty are sound. There are two commercial buildings and both are termed blighted.

Back in 1961, when Franklin petitioned to become an independent city, establishment of a redevelopment and housing authority was one of the two primary reasons given for their wanting to be a separate jurisdiction. The other reason was to be able to operate its own school system.

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is cpjeep99@yahoo.com.