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Company expected to create 204 jobs in Robeson County

LUMBERTON - A start-up ammunition manufacturer plans to create 204 jobs in Robeson County over the next five years, starting this summer.

Cape Fear Arsenal will expand its product from manufacturing projectiles to manufacturing all components of finished ammunition.

Jobs should be available as production increases, beginning in August when the company receives a new machine.

The loading machine will assemble all of the components of the finished ammunition. It is being built in Ohio and will be shipped to Lumberton for assembly in August.

In the first year, 36 jobs will be added, said Steve Weliver, chief branding officer. About 40 jobs will be added each of the following years.

In total, 204 jobs will be created over five years, he said.

"We've been getting applications for 10 months," Weliver said. "We have no shortage of people wanting to work here."

Salaries will vary by job, but the average annual wage will be $41,559, plus benefits.

Currently, the company has machines that produce projectiles. The ultimate goal is to produce finished ammunition with multiple shifts on a 24-hour cycle.

Once the new machine arrives, the company will manufacture 175million rounds of ammunition annually, Weliver said.

A shortage of ammunition available to the civilian population made it a logical move for the company to slide into the market. Most ammunition companies manufacture and sell their projects to the government, which was of high demand in wartime, he said.

The company would explore government contracts as it expands, Weliver said.

New companies struggled to enter the market as federal loan guidelines clamped down, said U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, who on Monday toured the company's building on Starlite Drive.

Hudson said he is encouraged to see manufacturing jobs enter Robeson County.

"The only reason they're able to do what they're doing is they found private investors," he said. "We've got to get Washington out of the way of entrepreneurs like this."

After touring the facility, the congressman said he is dedicated to helping the company successfully expand. Hudson said he would review available federal grants.

"I'm excited about the potential," he said. "We've had so much bad news on the job front. I truly believe we can have a manufacturing renaissance here in Robeson County."

The company already has received some assistance from two state grants. The North Carolina Rural Center awarded the company a $450,000 grant that was used to assist with upgrades. A $490,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund will be given over time, based on performance.

Cape Fear Arsenal moved into its 69,000-square-foot manufacturing plant on Starlite Drive last year. The building had been vacant for three years.

 

Fayetteville Observer, By: Amanda Dolasinski

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