SO-PAK-CO, a Mullins, S.C.-based food processor and packager, will invest $85 million in a processing and packaging center and add 440 new jobs in Laurinburg in Scotland County. It’s the largest job announcement for the county in more than 20 years, according to N.C. Commerce Secretary Machelle Sanders.
Scotland County, which once had thriving tobacco and textile industries, has long had among the highest unemployment rates in North Carolina.
“This announcement is great news for Scotland County and our state,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a release.
Formed in 1943, SO-PAK-CO is one of the largest suppliers of combat rations to the U.S. military and is expanding with more commercial retail customers. It had 850 employees in South Carolina in 2020, according to a Charleston Post & Courier story.
The company is among the top Department of Defense contractors in South Carolina, receiving $375 million in contracts between 2015 and 2020, the newspaper said.
SO-PAK-CO will hire craftsman, managers, operators, and administrative personnel with average salaries of more than $45,000. The average annual wage in Scotland County is $40,894.
The project is getting a state Job Development Investment Grant of $4.6 million over 12 years, hinged on meeting job and investment targets.
As part of the expansion, the Golden Leaf Foundation is giving $1.2 million to the city of Laurinburg for a ground storage tank that will help suppress potential fires at the plant and adjacent sites. The Rocky Mount-based nonprofit supports economic development, mainly in rural parts of the state.