FSEDI director reviews year of economic development

Published 5:38 pm Friday, December 20, 2019

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By Jay Brenchick

In July, I was excited to join the Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc. (FSEDI) team as president and CEO. I’ve used the past six months to get to know businesses, community stakeholders and, most importantly, residents. Additionally, I have been meeting with regional and state officials to make sure our community is well represented on a broad spectrum of economic development-related issues.

As we look back on this past year, the FSEDI staff is extremely grateful for all the community support we’ve received and the accomplishments we celebrate together. As the year ends, we want to take time to look back at some of our exciting business expansion and attraction projects, and opportunities for economic growth in our community.

In May, FSEDI was happy to announce Repair Tech purchased 15 acres of property in Pretlow Industrial Park for the construction of their new headquarters. Their investment of $1 million means that they will remain a vital part of our region, and local jobs will stay local.

In November, we were excited to announce that Hubbard Peanut Company (Hubs) will expand into the former Farm Fresh building on Armory Drive. This $1.6 million expansion is a win-win for both the City of Franklin and Southampton County. Hubs will continue to operate out of their facility in Sedley, and their new retail and operations are in a revenue-sharing area, which means both the City and County will benefit from tax revenues. FSEDI was proud to partner with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to assist Hubs in being awarded the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund, which brought $40,000 of state money back into our community. Hubs will create ten new jobs and increase their purchase of Virginia-grown peanuts by at least a third, which also helps in keeping investments local.

Most recently, we finished out the year with a very significant economic development announcement. Bon Bon Farms from Chesapeake will invest $8.5 million in the former Asheboro Elastics Corporation facility in Boykins and create 162 new jobs for our community. This project means that a facility shuttered months ago will be renovated, back in operation, employing people, and making a valuable contribution to our local tax base.

Our partnerships led to another successful community business launch competition, STARTUP Franklin Southampton. Unique to this iteration, we included the entirety of the City of Franklin and Southampton County for the boundaries that participants could open their business. Kasey and Delia Square of Storehouse won the grand prize of $20,000. Their new coffee shop, located in downtown Franklin, offers coffee and home-baked sweets in a community-centric atmosphere. Hunt and Christii Darden of Retro Flex won $10,000 towards their fitness center located at 25000 Shady Brook Trail in Southampton County. Kelli Jo Judas opened Franklin Crafters Gallery in downtown Franklin, and Aime Powell opened Slash Décor and Rentals in the Franklin Business Center. This program has helped launch four new businesses in our community. STARTUP was made possible by Funding Sponsors: Bronco Federal Credit Union, Downtown Franklin Association, Farmers Bank, and Rotary Club of Franklin and Program Sponsors: Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce, Insercorp, Main Event Franklin, Real Country 101.7, and The Tidewater News.

FSEDI also oversees the management efforts of the Franklin Business Center (FBC). The business incubator program welcomed nine new businesses in 2019 and is the home to 31 individual businesses. The FBC, which currently has a 74 percent occupancy rate, houses entrepreneurs, start-ups, and expanding businesses looking to grow for-profit businesses. This year we have had three businesses graduate. KCA Logistics moved to Sachs Ave located off Armory Drive, Safe Hands Home Healthcare is a neighbor to the future Hubs location on Armory Drive, and On-Time Staffing moved into the former For Pete’s Sake Lot in Courtland.

For more information on the center and incubator program, or to tour the facility, please call our office at 562-1958.

From the entire FSEDI staff and Board of Directors, we are incredibly grateful for the partner and community support we receive. We wish you all a wonderful holiday season and anticipate another year of exciting economic growth and progress as we prepare for the 2020 calendar.

JAY BRENCHICK is the president and CEO of the Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc. Contact him at 562-1958.