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SO-PAK-CO places news jobs, investment in Scotland County on hold | Laurinburg Exchange



SO-PAK-CO places news jobs, investment in Scotland County on hold | Laurinburg Exchange

LAURINBURG — SO-PAK-CO, Inc., a food processor and packager, notified NC Commerce and Scotland County they are delaying their creation of 440 new jobs and an $85 million state-of-the-art processing and packaging facility in Scotland County.

The company cited current market conditions, supply chain, and construction cost for the primary reasons for the hold.

“Having to make this decision was the right choice, but a difficult one,” said Lonnie Thompson, president of SO-PAK-CO. “Costs have increased significantly since we planned this project and unfortunately SO-PAK-CO will not be expanding in the near future.

“NC Commerce, Scotland County and NCDOT have been with us from day one and that doesn’t go unnoticed. We are not terminating all future expansions, we just can’t meet our original commitment and felt it was best to be upfront with all parties.”

SO-PAK-CO, Inc. is a world leader in the design, processing, and packaging of shelf-stable, ready-to-eat meals and is one of the largest suppliers of combat rations to the U.S. military.

With more than 50 years in the food-processing industry, SO-PAK-CO offers turnkey food processing solutions to not only federal, state, and local agencies, but also to a growing number of commercial retail customers. SO-PAK-CO’s new state-of-the-art facility in Scotland County would have been the largest single job creation in over 40 years.

“It’s disheartening to hear this news as we all wanted to see earth moving and jobs created for our citizens,” said Scotland County Board of Commissioners Chairman Tim Ivey. “The Board will continue to seek other projects and work with the SCEDC Board to market the site and our county.”

“While this isn’t the type of news we strive for, I, along with the SCEDC Board, respect all decision companies make that are proper for their organization, employees and communities,” said Whit Gibson, chair of Scotland County Economic Development Corporation. “Working and knowing SO-PAK-CO’s leadership, I know this was a decision that didn’t come easy, but based on the current economic conditions they made the choice that fits their strategic goals and plans. We thank Lonnie and this team for the interest and opportunity and we will continue to market Scotland County for the betterment of our citizens.

The New positions would have included craftsmen, managers, operators, and administrative personnel. Salaries for the new positions will vary, with an average annual salary of more than $45,000. The average annual wage in Scotland County was $40,894 when the project first announced in October of 2022.

“Although we are disappointed in this announcement, we understand that it a business decision driven by recent extremely high-cost increases in construction and equipment,” said Jim Willis, mayor of Laurinburg. “I have spoken with Lonnie Thompson who is disappointed that his project is not moving forward in his hometown for now. Lonnie has only high praise for everyone he worked with from the recruitment process to this current news, including Scotland County EDC, Scotland County, the City of Laurinburg, NCDOT, and the NC Department of Commerce.” Lonnie said, “Throughout this process, North Carolina has been tremendous in their representation for their city, county and state in each and every aspect.” Mayor Willis added “We thank SoPakCo for their interest in Laurinburg and Scotland County and hope they can follow through on their plans to locate here something in the future. We wish them all the best.”

SO-PAK-CO has not received any payment from NC Commerce or Scotland County under any grant award. The company would have received incentives in the amount of $4.098 million JDIG, $585K NC Community College Customized Training, and up to $5.4 Million in Tax Grant from Scotland County over 15 years

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