Half-billion dollar project could create thousands of jobs in Rowan County

Published 11:59 pm Monday, January 3, 2022

SALISBURY — Another major economic development opportunity has emerged for Rowan County

The Rowan County Board of Commissioners on Monday afternoon scheduled a public hearing on Jan. 18 to consider an incentive request for “Project Rabbit.” The company behind the codename is considering Rowan County for its new distribution facility.

And it would be a big one.

If Rowan County is chosen, the project would create 2,500 full-time jobs by the end of 2028. Additionally, the company would create more than 2,000 seasonal part-time jobs. Preliminary numbers show the company would invest over $584 million in new construction and equipment.

More details about “Project Rabbit” will be provided at the public hearing, which will be held during the Board of Commissioners meeting at 6 p.m. on Jan 18. The terms of the incentive deal also will be divulged at that time, economic development officials say. The board meets in the J. Newton Cohen Sr. Room on the second floor of the Rowan County Administration Building.

If “Project Rabbit” comes to fruition, it’s likely to be the largest economic development announcement in Rowan County history. The job creation total associated with the project is double what Chewy forecasted when it announced a fulfillment center in Rowan County in 2019. Chewy has already surpassed that goal and continues to hire new employees. 

The job and investment totals for “Project Rabbit” are also higher than what could be expected for “Project Bishop,” an economic development opportunity that received approval for tax incentive grants from both the county and town of China Grove in November. The company behind “Project Bishop” is an online retailer planning a new e-commerce fulfillment center in the greater Charlotte region. The company is planning to invest approximately $400 million in new construction and equipment and create 1,000 new jobs in the next three years.

The incentive grant approved by commissioners for “Project Bishop” is a nine-year agreement that would have the county return 80% of new taxes paid by the company in the first five years, 40% of new paid taxes in years six and seven and 25% of new paid taxes in the final two years. The incentive grant approved by the town council is a three-year agreement, which would have the town return 50% of new taxes paid in the first two years and 40% of new taxes paid in the third year. 

Scott Shelton, vice president of the Rowan Economic Development Council, told the China Grove Town Council in November that he expected a decision on “Project Bishop” to come shortly after the holiday season. China Grove is scheduled to receive an update from the Rowan EDC at its meeting Tuesday night, according to the agenda.