Southern Johnston County is emerging as a furniture market destination – attracting companies that build and support furniture manufacturing along with new showrooms that feature products. Recently, Broad River Retail, LLC, the largest independently owned Ashley HomeStore, announced plans to open a corporate campus and distribution center in the Town of Four Oaks, bringing 161 permanent, full time jobs to the community by the end of 2023.
The Golden LEAF Foundation has traditionally supported industrial development in rural regions of the state, often by awarding grants to provide infrastructure upgrades that help draw businesses to a region. The Foundation is assisting Johnston County’s growing furniture industry as well. In June, the Golden LEAF Foundation Board of Directors awarded a $500,000 grant to the county to help attract Broad River Retail, LLC’s corporate campus and distribution center to the I-95 corridor in Johnston County. Golden LEAF funds will be used to extend water and sewer infrastructure to serve the Broad River Retail facility and neighboring properties.
“In today’s world, it would be impossible to compete nationally and globally without economic development partnerships,” said Vic Medlin, Mayor Pro Tem of Four Oaks. “Historically, companies have made decisions regarding plant locations based on labor and natural resources. In today’s highly regulated world, companies depend on the partnership of governmental organizations and economic development tools to reach a decision on location.”
Medlin also serves as a board member on both the Johnston County Economic Development Board and the Four Oaks Downtown Development Board and worked on promoting the region to Broad River Retail.
“The importance of Broad River and Ashley Furniture locating in Four Oaks is immeasurable,” said Medlin. “With Rooms To Go down the road in Harnett County and now another major furniture manufacturer locating a distribution center, retail store and a call center in Four Oaks, it enables southern Johnston County and Four Oaks to become a home furniture destination. Not only will shoppers be able to connect with these furniture outlets, but also with our supporting businesses such as our cabinet makers, specialty furniture manufacturers and designers.”
Chris Chung, EDPNC Chief Executive Officer, said the much-needed jobs coming to the area are a culmination of collaboration by many partners and funding sources.
“Economic development is a team sport,” said Chung. “What we accomplish is done in partnership with a variety of local and state, public-and private-sector players. In rural communities, Golden LEAF is one of our key partners.”
With the Golden LEAF grant, Johnston County will construct water improvements and will work with the Town of Four Oaks which will construct sewer improvements.
“Without the Golden LEAF Foundation’s commitment to historically tobacco farming communities, our town, and others like us in eastern NC, would have a hard time transitioning to manufacturing and distribution,” said Medlin. “The resources from the Golden LEAF Foundation have allowed us to provide the water and sewer infrastructure necessary for companies to invest in rural areas.”
For the Town of Four Oaks and surrounding region, this teamwork has created a local furniture-industry hub that will draw customers regionally and provide jobs locally.