WALLACE — State and local officials announced big plans for Duplin County as they welcomed Metal Specialist LLC, a company that will bring a manufacturing plant for custom metal fabrication to Wallace, generating not only 33 new jobs, but also enabling Duplin to grow existing economic sectors.

“Today is an especially good day as we gather to celebrate another business that has chosen to settle here in Duplin County, bringing new jobs and opportunities for our citizens,” said Davis Brinson, Duplin County manager. “This is particularly pleasing as we emerged from the pandemic, which is one of the greatest generational challenges I think our nation has ever faced.”

The announcement was made July 14 during a reception at the Mad Boar Restaurant Celtic Court Room in Wallace. This partnership opens the doors to economic development and the revitalization of the Town of Wallace with nearly $3 million in investments.

“This announcement is not only a great win for this community and this company. But it’s an inspiration for small businesses across the entire state,” said D. Jordan Whichard IV, Chief Deputy Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Commerce. “it’s easy to see why they choose this region. It’s ideal for manufacturers and distributors with quick access to I 40, placing the company within a day’s drive of over 150 million Americans; Duplin County is near major commercial airports and most importantly, Duplin County is home to a strong pipeline of talent and a diverse workforce that companies like Metal Specialist needs.”

Whichard commended William Chestnutt, owner of Metal Specialist, and empathized the importance of partnerships and building relationships. He presented Chestnutt with a fine china plate emblazoned with the state seal as a token of appreciation.

Chestnutt, who has been a resident of Duplin County for the last five years said he is very grateful for the opportunity.

“We can’t thank Carrie enough for putting this all together; for giving Metal Specialists an opportunity where we can finally grow where we have resources — one of the hardest things for a small business, is like they say getting the right employee on the right seat of the bus,” said Chestnutt, as he spoke about the support he received from Carrie Shields Duplin County Economic Development Commission executive director.

The local business owner has a company in Clinton and recently opened a second location in Jacksonville. The Wallace location will be the headquarters and will include a manufacturing plant for custom metal fabrication with expansion plans for a 14,000-square-foot distribution center on five acres of land.

Chestnutt shared that Duplin County has been very supportive and he wants to make Duplin proud. “We’ve competed against some big roofing companies out there,” he said. “But something I noticed about Wallace and Duplin County is they love to keep it local. They love to help a locally owned business. We just thank God for this day.”

Wallace Mayor Charley Farrior said he was thrilled about all the new jobs that the company will bring to Wallace.

“We feel really good about it,” said Farrior. “They’re committed to us and they’re committed to Duplin County and their business and that’s a good deal.”

Board of Commissioners Chairman Dexter Edwards said it’s not only the value of adding jobs but also on a bigger scale how much money it will save. He is very pleased that “they chose Duplin to be their next place to expand.”

“Think about the value this is to all of our citizens, with the product being made right here. With the ongoing cost of transportation for shipment that is happening in this country today, being able to have the product at our hands right here in the county means a lot to our citizens,” said Edwards.

In a somewhat similar fashion as in the 19th Century, before manufacturing became a predominantly large-scale enterprise, manufacturing at a local business level can significantly benefit other area businesses contributing to neighborhood revitalization efforts and serve as an opportunity for the local community to grow simultaneously.

This partnership has been an ongoing effort between several local and state organizations that started approximately nine months ago according to Shields.

“Metal Specialists reached out to North Carolina Southeast, which Duplin County is affiliated with, and they started asking questions: availability of space, location … and every single thing that they needed, Duplin County could say yes to — we checked it all,” said Shields, who worked with the county commissioners to make sure they could fund Metal Specialists and assist with the state’s efforts to bring the company to Wallace. “It is a great day, with great success,” she said.

Shields said they have secured land for Metal Specialists in SouthPark, which Wallace’s industrial park.

“They will be located at the front of that building, and they’ll be breaking ground soon,” said Shields.

The annual salary for the new positions averages $40,213, which is nearly $4,000 more yearly than the average Duplin County salary. This jobs will create an approximate economic impact of more than $1.3 million annually in payroll.

A performance-based grant of $100,000 from the One North Carolina Fund will help facilitate Metal Specialist’s expansion to Duplin County. Additionally the North Carolina Community College System will provide customized training for the new positions.

This partnership was a joint effort between the North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina including the North Carolina General Assembly, the North Carolina Community College System, Duplin County, the Duplin County Economic Development Commission, North Carolina’s Southeast, Duke Energy and the Town of Wallace.

Ena Sellers may be reached at esellers@ncweeklies.com