New company bringing jobs to Garner

March 25, 2011 6:42:05 PM PDT
Now that the Red Route is gone, a new company will be making Garner its home.

Its code name is Project Health and it's expected to bring at least 250 jobs to Garner. The secret company also is vowing to invest $12 million to build a new facility, possibly in Garner's Greenfield South Business Park.

"I don't know that they've chosen a site yet, but the biggest news of all is that they chose Garner," Garner Economic Development Director Tony Beasley said.

And that's a big deal for Beasley. He says when the Red Route surfaced as an option in the I-540 extension, Project Health, along with other key developments in town hit a wall.

"The Red Route was basically stopping our industrial recruitment and it devastated our residential growth that we had," Beasley said.

Realtor Jean Stevens says she doesn't know how many potential residents her community lost.

Stevens says the Red Route was often referred to as the Red Dragon. She says sales at the popular retirement community, Village at Aversboro, slowed dramatically in recent months.

"People would tell us that they're waiting for the Red Route to go away before they make their decisions," Stevens said.

But just days after Governor Beverly Perdue slayed the so-called Red Dragon by signing off on a new law that took the option off the table, a home at Aversboro went under contract.

"I feel like it's time to celebrate," Stevens said.

Celebrate in a town that's been hit hard by the deadly explosion at the ConAgra plant in 2009. Last March ConAgra announced it was closing its plant in Garner after spending more than 50 years there.

Beasley says more than 230 people will lose their jobs this spring when ConAgra is expected to leave Garner for good.

"Hopefully, at the same time they're closing," Beasley said. "We'll be starting something new and maybe some of these folks can transition to some jobs with our new client."

The client is in the health services industry and we'll have to wait until Monday to find out who it is.

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