Corning’s presence expands into Edgecombe County
An $89 million distribution center for Corning Inc. is set to bring more than 100 jobs to Edgecombe County once it’s completed in 2020. The state-of-the-art warehouse will be instrumental in distributing a special kind of material called valor glass. Photo provided by Corning Inc.
Appeared as part of the Nash and Edgecombe counties sponsored section in the August 2019 issue.
By Teri Saylor
Corning Inc., a 168- year-old material-science company, is increasing its footprint in North Carolina by adding a distribution center in Edgecombe County.
The $89 million project will create 111 jobs to support operations at the large, state-of-the-art warehouse, according to Joseph Dunning, corporate sustainability manager.
Corning, a Fortune 500 company, touts itself as one of the world’s leading innovators. It has 70 manufacturing facilities worldwide, in addition to research centers in North America, Europe and Asia that employ a total of 50,000 people. Its three core technologies are glass science, ceramic science and optical physics. Sales totaled $11.4 billion in 2018.
Corning started construction on the warehouse last October, and officials anticipate it will be up and running in 2020, but there’s no exact timeline.
“Construction has begun,” Dunning says. “We expect progress on the facility and infrastructure to be paced with market adoption of valor glass.” Valor is a type of glass mainly used in pharmaceutical packaging and requires special Food and Drug Administration approval.
The company will coordinate with Edgecombe Community College and NCWorks, an online resource for job seekers and employers, to hold job fairs and fill positions locally. Annual wages will average $33,771.
The new distribution center will be located next to the Kingsboro CSX Select Megasite, a 1,449-acre industrial park in Edgecombe County. The 18-year-old site is located adjacent to U.S. 64 and eight miles from Interstate 95. The new CSX Intermodal terminal, currently under construction, will also aid its transportation needs.
“The site is a great asset because Corning will be a distribution center here and it will take advantage of both trucking and rail capabilities.” says Norris Tolson, CEO and president of the Carolinas Gateway Partnership. Corning looked at a variety of locations for its new warehouse within and outside North Carolina. In addition to the Kingsboro Megasite’s convenient location, other advantages factored into the company’s decision, Dunning says.
“We chose Edgecombe County because of the benefits it offered, such as its educational system, a highly skilled and dedicated workforce, good infrastructure, quality of life, and the business-friendly environment that makes it especially welcoming for Corning,” Dunning says.
Founded in 1851, Corning’s global headquarters is in Corning, N.Y., but the company has had a presence in the Tar Heel State for more than a half century after establishing its first North Carolina plant in Wilmington in 1966 to produce electronic resistors for radios, televisions and other electronic devices. In 1978, Corning built a second plant on a nearby site to manufacture fiber optics. Today, it has grown into one of the largest optical fiber-manufacturing plants in the world.
Over time, Corning has developed a significant presence across the state. In addition to the new distribution center in Edgecombe County and manufacturing plants in Wilmington, the company also operates a large fiber optical-manufacturing plant in Concord and two of the world’s largest fiber-cabling facilities in Winston-Salem and Hickory.
In Durham, Corning’s life sciences and pharmaceutical technologies-manufacturing center is getting a $189 million expansion set to create more than 300 jobs. The Durham site manufactures laboratory tools and products as well as glass packaging for drug storage and delivery. The Edgecombe distribution center will support these products as well as other Corning products manufactured in North Carolina and elsewhere.
Combined, Corning’s recent investment in the Edgecombe distribution center and Durham plant expansion will total $275 million and add more than 400 jobs in North Carolina.
For training, Corning will leverage the North Carolina Community College System, known worldwide for its customized training and other programs that support business development, according to Dunning.
“Specifically, Corning plans to work with Edgecombe Community College to recognize workforce needs, build curriculum and become a vital partner in honing the skills of the local workforce,” he says.
According to a report by the North Carolina Economic Development Partnership, each of the Corning projects will be supported in part by state Job Development Investment Grants, resulting in an additional $1.16 billion to North Carolina’s economy over the next 12 years. Under the JDIG agreements, the company could receive as much as $3.2 million over 12 years for the Durham County expansion and $1.2 million over the same period for the Edgecombe County plant. State payments, which factor in tax revenue generated by the new jobs, only occur after the company meets its annual job creation and investment commitments.
While Corning has no immediate plans to expand in the Edgecombe County area beyond the distribution center, the company constantly evaluates opportunities that align with market demand for its products, Dunning says.