This week, Governor Roy Cooper announced that Ventura Coach Corp and a related company, Absolute Bus, will create 61 new jobs with an expansion in Robeson County. Ventura Coach, which manufactures commercial shuttle buses, plans to invest $2 million for an upgrade of its facilities in Lumberton.
The expansion was welcome news for a company looking to capitalize on an opportunity, and a community that was hit hard by Hurricane Matthew last year.
“It’s been eighteen years since the second largest shuttle bus manufacturer in the nation left the southeast,” said Craig Hartman, CEO for Ventura Coach Corp. “Today as demand has risen to an all-time high; it is time to bring these jobs back to the south. As we grow, the industry will attract many new vendors to the area. This is just the beginning.”
Ventura Coach Corp builds and customizes shuttle buses. Ventura Coach is one of the few bus manufacturers that builds onto a full truck cab, which provides more strength and durability to the overall bus. Ventura bus bodies also feature contoured sides for better aerodynamics in crosswinds.
According to an interview with the Triangle Business Journal, Greg Cummings, Economic Development Director for Robeson County, said that in addition to Robeson County, Ventura considered Indiana and South Carolina for the project. But ultimately, North Carolina won out.
“Strategically, it was about the location along this interstate corridor,” he said. Additionally, Interstate 95 and the North Carolina Community Colleges’ custom training programs also played a role in the company’s decision to expand here.
A performance-based grant of $200,000 from the One North Carolina Fund will help facilitate Ventura Coach Corp’s expansion in Robeson County. The One NC Fund provides financial assistance to local governments to help attract economic investment and create jobs. Companies receive no money upfront and must meet job creation and capital investment targets to qualify for payment. All One NC grants require a matching grant from local governments and any award is contingent upon that condition being met.
While compensation will vary by position, average salaries for the new jobs associated with the OneNC grant will be $30,100, in line with the current average annual wage in Robeson County of $30,280.
North Carolina Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina were joined by other key partners in the expansion project, including the North Carolina General Assembly, the North Carolina Community College System, the Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC), Robeson County, and Robeson County Economic Development.
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