COLUMN: FSEDI 2023 in review

Published 6:27 pm Wednesday, January 3, 2024

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By Karl Heck
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2023 was an exciting year for the Franklin Southampton economy. Despite predictions of a national recession, the U.S. and regional economy was generally good, and positive momentum appeared in Franklin Southampton as well. 

Franklin Southampton Economic Development, Inc. (FSEDI) was extremely active during 2023, working to create new business opportunities as well as additional possibilities to develop in future years. FSEDI brings a great deal of new economic activity to Franklin Southampton, and its “unique in Hampton Roads” public-private partnership helps lower costs for economic development for taxpayers in the City of Franklin and Southampton County.

Some of the economic highlights in Franklin Southampton in 2023 were:

  1. It was a strong year for the local agricultural sector. The cotton is still being ginned locally, and the peanut crop was excellent as well. 
  2. There was continued strong interest in industrial sites. Along with one major property sale, other parcels in Franklin Southampton are attracting national and international interest, and we look forward to the likelihood of new industrial announcements in 2024.
  3. Global Concentrate continues forward with their plans at Pretlow Industrial Park in Franklin, and there is hope for a ground-breaking and beginning of construction on their first building in the first half of 2024. The total Global Concentrate project promises at least $121 million in new taxable investment in the City of Franklin.
  4. D.R. Horton sold all of their new homes in Regency Estates and Joyner’s Landing during 2023. They recently held a grand opening for Phase Two of Riverwood Estates, committing to build over 40 new homes in Franklin in this phase. The new construction has added over $20 million to the local property tax base as well as brought new residents into our community, and this growth continues in 2024. There were other new housing developments also completed in the County, and more interest in home construction exists.
  5. The award-winning Franklin Business Center (FBC) operated at 95% or better of capacity all year. The FBC currently houses 38 employers employing close to 200 full and part-time employees, providing jobs and increasing tax revenues for our community. More than 50% of the businesses in the FBC are minority-owned, and half are women-owned.
  6. There was continued growth at Hampton Farms. The company is building a new grain purchasing and cold storage facility on General Thomas Highway, as well as continuing to grow volume and employees at their peanut butter manufacturing facility at Route 58 and General Thomas Highway. 
  7. FSEDI enhanced its Small Business Saturday advertising and promotions, creating a raffle for shoppers and an enhanced radio/social media campaign to support our local businesses.
  8. Dunkin’ opened on Armory Drive in Franklin. Combined with the openings of Wawa and Starbucks in late 2022, there has been a substantial increase in the City of Franklin’s sales tax revenue due in part to these new establishments.
  9. Southampton Motor Speedway re-opened after being dormant for almost two decades. New management has renovated and invested in the facility. The Speedway is currently hosting drifting and autocross events. There are plans for additional racing events over time.
  10. G.R. Mabrey Enterprises purchased the former Valley Proteins site in western Southampton County. The company is renovating and investing in the property as it operates. Their plans include trucking operations and servicing, along with the production of mulch and topsoil. Mabrey Enterprises envisions 40-50 new employees to ultimately be employed in Southampton County once the businesses are fully operating.
  11. Winner’s Circle bought the Chevrolet-GMC dealership in Franklin and opened the new Chrysler-Dodge-Ram-Jeep dealership next door. Southern Charm Garden Center also built a new facility in Franklin in the Enterprise Zone area.
  12. FSEDI held its annual STARTUP Franklin Southampton competition this spring. Prize winners West Wellness Company, a chiropractor in Franklin, and Knotted Thistle LLC, a new boutique and do-it-yourself retail business in Courtland, have opened and are serving the public. Eight businesses participated in the STARTUP pitch night.

We look forward to even better economic news in 2024. If you have an interest in investing in Franklin Southampton or at the Franklin Business Center, please call the FSEDI office at 757-562-1958 today. You will be glad you did!

KARL HECK is president and CEO of Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc. He can be reached at