HENDERSON, N.C. — Rural counties used to rely on major employers for thousands of jobs. With textile plants and other big companies throwing in the towel, the strategy has changed.
Leaders in one town broke the mold when they attracted a new business to set up shop.
One of Vance County's newer industries employees about 25 people to manufacture moldings used in construction and furniture. It is not the size of Profilform that makes the Henderson employer a huge success story in a town once dominated by textiles.
When the company moved out of Raleigh into the Henderson-Vance County Industrial park, business really took off.
"We doubled our sales in 2003 and we started off much better than the last year. So we are looking at expanding in this building and there is much more land out there," Profilform owner Tilo Hessler said.
In moving to Vance County, Profilform found it could own the building for less money than renting space in Wake County. The company also liked the available work force.
"We appreciate the work force up here and they are very thankful for the work," plant manager Markus Schalkamp said.
Tina Keeton was unemployed when she landed an inside sales job with the company.
"I'm really pleased with the company and the potential I have to work with them," she said.
For industry recruiters, smaller companies reflect a new attitude for an area crippled by the closing of huge textile mills.
"Years ago, most counties like Vance were looking to go out and find that big fish. Today, that's just not the case. Those big fish don't come along very often," said Cliff Rogers of Vance County Economic Development.
Vance County's unemployment rate of nearly 13 percent is the the highest in the state.
With textile jobs apparently gone forever, the county's strategy is to attract smaller companies with plenty of room to grow.