Yesterday, I was told I needed to sign some papers for Bladen Agri-Industrial and as I normally do, I headed to the Elizabethtown Industrial Park. And as I do from time to time, I wonder around to see what is new in the park and then spend some time in the office.
I was in for a surprise. Actually, was summoned to the park where I was met by Dawn Maynard, Elizabethtown-White Lake Chamber of Commerce Executive Director and presented a nice floral arrangement with a card that read, “Robert Hester – Honorary Lifetime Chamber Member of the Year.” I was appreciative, humbled and embarrassed. So many others more worthy than me, but Thanks.
It caused me to think about some of what I have observed over the years. As I attempted to sleep last night, I thought about the many changes that have taken place in my lifetime in Bladen County. So many changes, from a county that depended on tobacco for many years, to a county that today includes turf farms, blueberry farms, cotton and peanut farms, corn and soybean farms and swine and poultry farms, and still some tobacco farms, maybe others.
Thoughts While Shaving this A.M.
I thought about families that have made huge investments in the area. I will name a few, not the only ones, just an example of some who brought change. In Bladenboro, the Bridgers, the Cox family in Clarkton, the Brissons in Dublin, the Taylor family in Dublin and Elizabethtown, The Wombles-Corbetts-Melvins- Marshburns and more at White Lake and in Elizabethtown, the Clarks, the Greenes, the Campbells, just to mention a few.
In the 50s many local individuals bought $10 shares in a plant, later the Elizabethtown MFG Company that housed a ‘cut & sew’ operation that provided jobs for over 100 employees. Yep, it was a ‘sweat shop’ but so was a tobacco field. Later, some of the same folks bought $10 shares for a new doctors office. Everyone in both projects had their money returned when the plant and office building were sold, well, all that could be located. Residents investing in their home town. Civic pride at its best.
In Bladenboro, a group of civic minded residents purchased or made arrangements to purchase property to expand the industrial base as the Bladenboro Industrial Park.
DuPont (now at least 3 different plants), Smithfield, Alamac, (later WestPoint Pepperell) made investments in the community, as did Veeder Root (now Danaher). Several businesses came calling in Clarkton including Gildan and Blacks Tire Service.
Today, the Elizabethtown Industrial Park has so much potential. Expansions are expected and new businesses are welcomed in all areas of the county. Over 140 employees are answering calls for NCDMV at the call center in the Elizabethtown park. Just one example of many different type businesses in the park.
Lu Mil Vineyard is a perfect example of imagination and hard work and provides a valuable service to the area. There are others and more on the way. And yes, some are no longer in the area, for whatever the reason.
Couldn’t help but think about county leaders of the county in 50s and 60s, a new hospital and courthouse were constructed. In the 70s and 80s, new schools were constructed and a new Health Department building, a new DSS building, a new Bladen County library. New municipal buildings were constructed in Bladenboro, Elizabethtown & White Lake and other towns in the area either constructed or renovated their headquarters.
I know I have not covered it all. If I had had access to pen and paper about 2 a.m. this morning, I would have had a more complete list.
I hear, there are no jobs in the area. BULL, there are jobs available, maybe not what some prefer and deserve, but there are jobs. Problem is drugs and lack of education cause many to stay on the sidelines. That can be rectified. End drug use and visit BCC and I would bet they have a program that will provide the education needed to become gainfully employed.
I am just a fortunate individual, to have been on the sidelines watching much of it happen. I love Bladen County.
Again, thanks to the Chamber for the honor. I have enjoyed the journey and look forward to more.
“The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time”. Friedrich Nietzsche
“One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.” Rita Mae Brown
“Some people have an annoying habit of remembering things they shouldn’t.”Share: