Cumberland's indecision gives Hoke opening to lure chicken plant
Posted January 21, 2015
Raeford, N.C. — Hoke County officials are pecking away at a plan to lure a chicken processing plant to Raeford, taking advantage of Cumberland County's on-again, off-again pursuit of the plant.
The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners has since September twice rejected an incentives deal for Sanderson Farms, which looked to build a $95 million plant in a county-owned industrial park off Interstate 95. But the board voted Tuesday to hold a public hearing on the $2.5 million incentive package.
County Attorney Rick Moorefield told commissioners, however, that Cumberland County is no longer being considered for the plant, which was expected to employ 1,000 people and contract with area farmers to provide the chickens.
Hoke County lost 1,400 jobs in 2013 when Hose of Raeford closed a poultry operation, and Donald Porter, executive director of the Raeford-Hoke Economic Development Commission, said he would love the chance to bring another plant in to bring back many of those jobs.
"Anything we can do to replace those jobs would just be tremendous," Porter said Wednesday. "Plus, as people know, we've had a poultry operation here, so we are a poultry-friendly community, and I think that we can accommodate that company."
The vacant House of Raeford plant sits in downtown Raeford, but Porter said the county would be interested in putting a Sanderson plant in the Hoke County Industrial Park, off N.C. Highway 20. The 800-acre park has access to natural gas, electricity and water already, and he said the county could also build a wastewater treatment plant there. Sanderson would need about 300 acres in the park for a plant.
"My telephone has been ringing off the hook," he said, "not from my local officials, but from citizens who are wanting to know if we are looking to bring them here."
Porter said, however, that he hasn't heard back from Sanderson on whether the company is still interested making North Carolina home.
Sanderson officials couldn't be reached Wednesday for comment.