Lenoir County boasts a diverse economic base, with a healthy mix of large and small manufacturers and a strong foundation of small businesses, tourism and agriculture. The vibrant downtown areas in Kinston, Pink Hill and LaGrange feature one-of-a-kind shops, restaurants and services, and a wealth of businesses are located in commercial centers throughout the county, including Vernon Park Mall, the Shops of Frenchmanâs Creek, downtown Kinston, Herritage Landing and Kinston Plaza.
âSmall business growth is the backbone of our country, and we recognize that here,â says Laura Lee Sylvester, president of the Kinston-Lenoir County Chamber of Commerce.
Big business also plays a key role in the countyâs economy, and major employers such as Electrolux Home Products, Lenox China, MasterBrand Cabinets, Associated Materials, Hillco LTD, Smithfield Foods, West Pharmaceutical Services and many others call Lenoir County home.
Suppliers and Demand
Spirit AeroSystems â the worldâs largest independent supplier of commercial airplane assemblies and components â began production in July 2010 at its new, $570.5 million design and manufacturing facility at the Global TransPark near Kinston. The 500,000-square-foot plant plans to employ about 250 workers by the end of 2010, and it plans to hire another 800 within five years.
Sanderson Farms, the nationâs fourth largest poultry processing company, is also moving into Lenoir County. The Mississippi-based food producer is investing $126.5 million in the county to build a poultry processing plant, feed mill and hatchery in Kinston, which will create about 1,500 jobs. The plant is scheduled to open for operation in January 2011.
MasterBrand Cabinets, one of the countyâs major employers, recently announced that 334 new jobs will be created in the next three years. The growth â spurred by the introduction of a new product line that will be released in fall 2010 â will more than double the facilityâs workforce, which now stands at 200.
Cutting Edge of Commerce
The North Carolina Global TransPark near Kinston is a 2,500-acre industrial park offering access to air, rail, highways and the stateâs two international ports. The GTP has a pro-business climate aimed at growing the aerospace, logistics, manufacturing, emergency services, defense contracting and supporting industries. Located midway between New York and Miami, itâs in an ideal commercial location. Visit www.ncgtp.com for more information.
With Lenoir Countyâs rich Civil War history, bluegrass roots, African-American heritage, performing arts venues, outdoor recreational and sports attractions, tourism is another major economic engine for the county. Restaurants, shops, hotels and other services benefit from the visitors who flock to the county to experience its scenic beauty, Southern charm and diverse attractions.
Connected to the Land
Agriculture continues to play a significant role in the economic development of Lenoir County. Approximately 68 percent of the total countyâs personal income consists of some type of agricultural production or service â not including agribusiness such as chemical sales or agricultural supplies â and farm employment is responsible for 66 percent of the workforce, says Tammy Kelly, county extension director for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension. Lenoir County ranks ninth in the state in tobacco and cotton production, and itâs among the top 20 counties for production of corn, soybeans and wheat.
The Lenoir County Farmers Market draws increasingly large crowds each year with its locally grown produce, prepared foods, flowers, crafts and more. The farmers market, located at 100 North Herritage St., was recently upgraded with new paint, landscaping and other improvements for the 2010 season. Visit www.lenoir.ces.ncsu.edu for more information.