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Editorial: All should cheer Chewy announcement

All of Rowan County can proudly cheer Wednesday’s announcement that 1,200 jobs are coming to a site on Long Ferry Road.

Chewy.com, an online retailer of pet food and other products, plans to bring 1,200 jobs and a 700,000-square-foot warehouse to Rowan County, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday.

The deal is the result of years of work and decisions that put the right people in positions to succeed. Rod Crider and the entire staff of the Rowan County Economic Development Commission deserve the lion’s share of the credit for working tirelessly to bring a great, new employer to Rowan County.

The entire Rowan County Board of Commissioners and particularly Chairman Greg Edds, who often is personally involved in recruiting business to town, also deserves tremendous credit for working to change the tone of local government and make our community more business friendly.

But that’s not an all-inclusive list and there are many others, too many to list here, who made a difference in closing the Chewy.com deal.

Importantly, the 1,200 or more jobs created by Chewy will not be the only ones created as a result of Wednesday’s announcement. And Chewy will not be not be the only business opening up shop.

Consider, for example, that there’s just one gas station across from the site and trucking business in the immediate vicinity. Also close by is a small residential area. With tractor-trailers and 1,200 workers traveling to and from the site, the surroundings of Chewy’s chosen location certainly will change for the better.

Meanwhile, though we suspect Rowan residents may look to move up from lower-paying jobs, there’s no doubt Chewy’s fulfillment center will be a regional draw, too, as the site is the last northbound exit on I-85 before the Yadkin River and Davidson County. That means workers from elsewhere will buy gas and/or food in Rowan County on a regular or semi-regular basis. Perhaps we’ll be able to convince them to move here, too.

A multi-million-dollar incentive deal for 10 years will decrease the total amount of taxes that county government receives from the new plant, but after that period, Rowan will receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in new tax revenue.

The are many bright spots in what’s already an exciting announcement.

Some may quibble with the average salary cited in documents prepared by the Rowan County Economic Development Commission — $28,388 — but those concerns are moot when paired with the fact that 40 percent of nearby East Spencer lives below the poverty line. In Spencer, the poverty rate is 20 percent. It’s 23 percent in Salisbury, according to U.S. Census data. And while our economy is humming at a good clip, there are still people working lower-wage jobs than Chewy will offer to make ends meet.

Those willing to work hard, show up to work on time, dress appropriately and able to pass a drug test can reasonably get a job at Chewy.

The qualifications listed online for a Chewy.com fulfillment specialist include being 18 years old, able to lift up to 75 pounds with or without accommodations, able to stand or walk for eight to 10 hours with 30 minute breaks, willing to be trained on powered equipment and having flexibility to work overtime.

A long list of work remains for Chewy and local leaders before workers clock in for the first shifts. But this is Rowan County’s time to shine, and we’re excited to watch what comes next for our community’s newest employer.

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