A Chinese company’s planned tire factory in Edgecombe County, called the largest investment in rural North Carolina’s history, is stalled due to international politics.
Economic developers in the area say they are concerned that project delays are keeping them from pursuing other deals.
Offering 400 acres of open land ready to build, developers say the Kingsboro megasite east of the Rocky Mount is one of the best places to do business in the state.
To prove it: A large international company chose land as its headquarters in the United States more than three years ago.
So why is there still nothing built there?
“Of course, as soon as that happened, we looked at the issue between China and the US in terms of geopolitics,” said Carolinas Gateway Partnership president Norris Tolson.
In 2018, Chinese company Triangle Tire announced it would build its first factory in the US on Kingsboro.
The developers say it will bring nearly 1,300 jobs and more than $1 billion in investments to Edgecombe County.
“At that time, the merchants told us, [former NC Commerce] Secretary Copeland told us this is the largest project in rural North Carolina history,” said Tolson. “So we’re all pretty excited about it.”
Then there’s the trade war.
The conflict between the Trump Administration and China has resulted in the US increasing tariffs on Chinese investment.
Since the trade war began in July 2018, financial penalties for Chinese imports into the United States have become more than six times more expensive on average, according to research by the Institute of International Economics. Peterson economy.
“They brought money from China to North Carolina to build the project, and they couldn’t get it out of China without paying a huge expense,” Tolson said. “And so it went into a pause, that’s where it remains.”
While the Triangle Tire decided what to do next, economic developers in Edgecombe County said they were overwhelmed with interest in the blank site, especially after CSX’s Carolina Connector terminal went live. operating in October.
“And obviously what we care or care about is, we don’t want to miss opportunities when they’re there,” Tolson said. “And so we’re talking to our Triangle friends about the problem, okay what are you going to do?”
Tolson said if Triangle doesn’t start construction by April 2023, their contract will force them to pay a county fine.
WRAL News reached out to the company to inquire about Edgecombe County’s concerns and inquire about any timeline for starting construction.
The company did not respond promptly to this story.
“What we’re saying to them is, is there anything we can do to get you started building?” Tolson said. “And if not, is there anything we can do to get our site back?”