First Posted: 1/15/2009
LUMBERTON -- A Canadian company that operates 11 race tracks in the United States has announced plans to open a plant in Lumberton to produce horse bedding to be used at their tracks. It is expected to provide 30 full-time jobs and also serve as an outlet for local wheat growers.
The announcement that Magna Entertainment Corp. has agreed to build a straw-processing facility was made this morning at the county Economic Development Office. Officials hope to break ground in the fourth quarter of this year and have the plant operating by spring.
Magna plans to build on an 80-acre site on Lowe Road near N.C. 72. Magna and the county split the cost of the site, which was bought from the Kenny Biggs family.
“We've been working on a strategic plan, which called for diversity,” said Greg Cummings, the county's Economic Development director. “This is a great example of that today.”
Touting itself as one of the “largest operators of premier race tracks,” Magna Entertainment has committed to making a $3 million capital investment and create 30 jobs within five years.
No representatives from Magna Entertainment attended the press conference.
Cummings said the company's workers will be paid an average of about $20,000 per year. There was no information about what kind of labor the workers would perform.
The company plans to use locally grown wheat straw to produce its all-natural product. The plant will initially handle 3,000 to 4,000 tons of wheat straw per year but says that will grow to15,000 to 20,000 tons of wheat every year when the plant is at capacity.
Cummings said that the county won out over sites in South Carolina and Georgia. He said the county's economic incentives package was instrumental in luring Magna to the county.
This morning's meeting was attended by state Agriculture Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps, who characterized the announcement as “welcome news to North Carolina farmers.”
She said another key reason that Magna Entertainment chose Lumberton is its proximity to Interstate 95 and U.S. 74. The company also operates facilities in Florida and in the Northeast.
“When I took office, I put together a team of agribusiness specialists whose jobs are to expand opportunities by working with other businesses, groups and agencies to attract new industry and develop value-added products for our farmers,” Phipps said. “Today's announcement is an example of this team's work.”
Based in Ontario, Magna Entertainment acquires and operates horse tracks and other waging operations, including off-track betting facilities. The company also owns and operates a national account wagering system called XpressBet.
Officials with the N.C. Department of Commerce, the N.C. Small Grain Growers Association, the N.C. Southeast Commission, the Southeastern Regional Agricultural Center/Farmers Market and U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre's office also attended the announcement.