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Retailer's new project could bring 1,000 jobs to Rowan County — but its identity is secret

Town Hall in China Grove, N.C.
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Town Hall in China Grove, N.C.

Rowan County is in the running for a major investment from a nationwide online retailer — but the company's identity is a secret.

Documents filed with the Rowan County Commission say the unnamed online retailer is looking at the town of China Grove as a potential site for a new "e-commerce fulfillment center facility," potentially bringing 1,000 jobs and $400 million in investments to the area.

The company,the documents say, is an "online retailer that offers thousands of products to its customers and serves them from warehouses and fulfillment centers located throughout the United States."

If Rowan County is selected for the project, nicknamed "Project Bishop," construction on the new warehouse could begin in early 2022, with operations beginning in 2024.

Reached by phone, China Grove Mayor Charles Seaford said he was "really, really excited" by the prospect, but said even he was not sure of the retailer's identity.

"We're hoping this may be the first of many industrial folks coming our way," Seaford said. "We've not had really a lot of industrial growth here, and so our citizens have been carrying the tax burden all alone."

Seaford said the company was examining a site along Highway 152, near the Hitachi Metals plant, for its new warehouse, and he said preliminary estimates for the warehouse's size ranged from 800,000 sqaure feet to 1.4 million square feet.

According to the Rowan Economic Development Council, the project would create roughly 1,000 full-time jobs over three years. Some 900 of those jobs would be "fulfillment-related positions," and the rest would supervisory and administrative positions.

Representatives with the Rowan Economic Development Council did not immediately return requests for comment Thursday, and Rowan County Chairman Greg Edds could also not be immediately reached for comment.

The Rowan County Commission will hold a public hearing Nov. 15 for possible incentives the county may offer to the company.

Under a proposal from the Rowan Economic Development Council, the county could offer up to $9.56 million in incentives over 10 years. The company is also pursuing a Job Development Investment Grant from the state of North Carolina, and additional incentives from the town of China Grove.

Seaford said he expected an announcement from the company, and a reveal of the company's identity, sometime in early 2022. He was not sure how many other towns might also be in consideration.

If Rowan County is selected, construction on the new warehouse could begin in early 2022, with operations beginning in 2024, according to the Rowan Economic Development Council.

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Nick de la Canal is the host of Weekend Edition on Saturday/Sunday mornings, and a reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal