Some of the benefits for Robeson County concerning Sanderson Farms’ decision to locate a chicken-processing plant just outside of St. Pauls are obvious and have been mentioned often.
But we will underline them again.
— The St. Pauls plant will create about 1,100 jobs with an average wage of $11 an hour. This will put to work a quarter of the number of people in Robeson County who aren’t working but say they are looking for jobs. The employment will come with benefits, none more prized than health insurance. So these people, instead of depending on the government for a check, will earn wages and pay taxes.
— Sanderson Farms plans to put a hatchery in Lumberton. A much better characterization would be to call it a local corporate headquarters. It will create about 85 white-collar jobs with an average yearly salary that bumps up against $40,000. The people who work there will not only be leaders of the local Sanderson Farms team, but many will become leaders in the community, in churches, civic groups, schools, etc.
— Someone has to build that $115 million plant near St. Pauls, and the $17 million Lumberton facility, so there will be hundreds of construction workers who will provide the labor. Although that work will be temporary, most jobs for painters, Sheetrock hangers, plumbers, carpenters, electricians and landscapers last only until the work is finished.
— Sanderson Farms will employ a lot of local people through contract work, primarily chicken farms and people who will lease the company the use of spray fields. Local agricultural supply stores also stand to benefit.
— The 1,100 people who travel to St. Pauls to work will spend money locally that will create new jobs. They will need gasoline, they will need to eat, they will spend money in retail establishments. Some will move move closer to their work, and will purchase homes or rent apartments.
— Sanderson Farms will pay a lot of property taxes. Our best estimate is that when the incentives expire, St. Pauls, based on its current tax rate, will receive about $600,000 a year, an incredible windfall for a community that size that will pay for lingering needs, such as more police officers. Robeson County, based on the current tax rate, will receive about $900,000 a year, the equivalent of 1.5 cents on the tax rate. The city of Lumberton will receive a more modest amount, perhaps around $100,000 a year. This new revenue will not mean lower taxes, but it might defer future tax hikes — and it can certainly be used to to work to the benefit of these communities.
Recent news points to another, less obvious, benefit. The Golden LEAF Foundation, which was established to help communities hardest hit by the loss of tobacco jobs, announced that St. Pauls would receive an $820,000 grant and Lumberton a $300,000 grant, both of which will pay for improvements to water and sewer infrastructure needed to serve Sanderson. St. Pauls is also well-positioned as it seeks more than $2 million in additional grants for the same purpose.
In St. Pauls the grant will help repair crumbling infrastructure and save people who live in that community having to pick up the bill. In Lumberton, the additional infrastructure will open up for commercial development a corridor on N.C. 41 that could invite new industry.
These are just a couple of more reasons that local residents should be grateful that Sanderson Farms picked Robeson County.