Statewide: Eastern region, November 2014

 In 2014-11

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End of the road

A decade-long federal program that eased tobacco growers into the free market ended in October, halting payments that brought a steady stream of revenue to growers. As the nation’s largest tobacco producer, the state benefited more than any other from the Tobacco Transition Payment Program, started in 2005 to end the antiquated quota system. It pumped an estimated $2.7 billion into North Carolina’s economy, according to a report by Blake Brown, an N.C. State University economics professor. “A lot of growers retired, and we had some who exited tobacco production and went into other lines of business,” he says. “It’s certainly going to be missed, but the end of this has been anticipated for 10 years. It shouldn’t be a surprise.” He doesn’t foresee a dramatic decrease in the number of tobacco farmers.

The new China trade
Though the number of tobacco farms has dwindled by 80% during the last decade, cash receipts have increased. “A lot of people used [transition] payments to retire debt or get in a better financial position. There was a lot of consolidation. Farms that are left are much larger and more efficient,” Brown says. Tar Heel farmers have benefited from increased international demand, particularly in countries such as China, where consumers value premium tobacco. 


Briefs

GREENVILLEDPx Holdings will spend $159 million to expand its Patheon pharmaceutical plant here, adding 488 jobs to its 1,000 by 2019. Annual pay for the new jobs will average $54,098, higher than Pitt County’s $39,845. The Durham company — formed earlier this year when Patheon merged with Dutch vitamin-maker Royal DSM in a $2.6 billion deal — employs about 1,680 in the state. It will receive $6.3 million in state grants if it meets hiring targets.

RICHMOND COUNTYEnviva will invest $214.2 million in two wood-pellet plants, one here and another in Sampson County, creating 160 jobs by 2017. Annual pay will average $37,961, higher than Richmond’s $30,788 and Sampson’s $30,735. The Bethesda, Md.-based company employs 180 at a Raleigh office and at wood-pellet plants in Hertford and Northampton counties (Statewide, August). It will get up to $1.7 million in state grants if it meets job-creation goals.

WILSONLinamar will buy Carolina Forge from Meadville, Pa.-based MFC Group for an undisclosed amount and invest $40 million in its plant here, which makes automotive and industrial components. The Guelph, Ontario-based auto-parts manufacturer will add 125 workers to the existing 145 by the end of 2019. Average annual pay for the new jobs will be $37,600, lower than Wilson County’s average of $41,397.

GREENVILLEVidant Health President and CEO David Herman will resign at the end of the year to become chief executive of Essentia Health in Duluth, Minn. Chief Administrative Officer Janet Mullaney will replace him on an interim basis.

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