Carolina Connector to bring thousands of jobs, hundreds of millions of dollars into NC through Rocky Mount area
The Rocky Mount area is two months away from seeing the launch of a major infrastructure project that's expected to bring hundreds of millions of dollars to the state.Posted — Updated
Economic development leaders said the Carolina Connector intermodal facility is attracting new businesses to an already booming region.
“It’s always good news to have an investment like this, period,” said Andy Hagy, Nash County's director of economic development.
Just outside of Rocky Mount, a row of 100-foot-tall cranes stands high above the trees.
They’re the crown jewel of rail company CSX’s new intermodal terminal – a $160 million investment in the area that’s set to launch by early October.
“Carolina Connector is what we call it,” Carolinas Gateway Partnership President Norris Tolson said. “We liken it to an airline hub, where they bring in trains and trucks with containers on the back.”
The cranes, which will all be remotely operated, will move containers between trucks and trains to help companies ship their products.
Experts said Rocky Mount won the project thanks to its prime location.
“We’ve got the advantages of I-95, and we’ve got the advantages of being in the Research Triangle region,” Hagy said.
Then, in 2018, officials scaled back their estimates of how much cargo volume the center would accommodate.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation said the facility could bring up to 1,500 jobs and $400 million to the state’s economy.
But leaders of economic development in Edgecombe County are thinking bigger.
“Even on a conservative basis, $300 [million], $400 [million], $500 million of additional input for North Carolina is a pretty significant number,” Tolson said.
While experts still don’t know how many of those dollars will make their way to Nash and Edgecombe counties, representatives from both said they’re already seeing interest from other companies looking to hop on the train.
“Just looking at the increased interest, our project flow has doubled since the intermodal being here,” Tolson said.
“Right out of the gates, I think it’s going to grow like everything else,” Hagy said. “In five years, it’s going to make a tremendous impact on the county as well as the region.”
The facility will start out with three cranes, but the Carolinas Gateway partnership says there’s plenty of room to expand if all goes well.