SANFORD, N.C. Frontier Spinning Mills has started a $15.5 million expansion project in Sanford that should initially add 45 new technology-based jobs, introduce more advanced machinery to the company's local operation and provide a substantial boost to the local tax base.
From its headquarters in Sanford, Frontier Spinning manufactures yarns for the knitting and weaving trades and operates facilities in North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. Based on figures published last fall, the company employs about 1,100 people with 300 to 400 working in Sanford and produces over 500 million pounds of yarn each year.
John Maness, executive vice president for Frontier Spinning, says expansion follows the company's decision adopt a new technology that spins cotton into yarn at higher speeds with better quality. Once the decision was made to expand, the question became where to do it.
"Having our headquarters here certainly factored into the decision, but that was just one consideration," Maness says. "We looked carefully for places where we could find everything necessary to make this work.
"That includes a skilled workforce, a building that could be adapted quickly for the new technology and a financial package that helped manage the risk required by such a major investment. All of the pieces needed to be in place, and we found that here."
Maness credited Lee County Economic Development for helping the company find ways to make the risk manageable and cited an incentives package approved by city and county officials for making expansion possible in Sanford.
Lee County's policy offers incentives as a percentage of the additional taxes paid as a result of new investment. The arrangement with Frontier Spinning lasts for five years, and incentives are returned only after the company pays its entire tax bill and fulfills other terms of the agreement.
With its expansion and a more-upbeat economic outlook, Frontier is optimistic about the future.
"Business is looking up after a difficult year," Maness says. "With those better prospects and this expansion allowing us to enter new markets and expand our sales, we feel like we have a bright future here in Sanford."
The Lee County Economic Development Corp. is a nonprofit organization established to attract industry, enhance job opportunities and promote sound planning across Lee County. Funding is provided by the county, as well as the City of Sanford and Town of Broadway, the county's two municipalities.