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In what was a major blow to the regional economic outlook, Ikea announced in July of 2019 that it would close down its operation in the Cane Creek Centre in Pittsylvania County. After multiple rounds of layoffs, the company was down to about 300 employees. Since learning of the closure, several new projects have been announced, totalling 1,187 newly announced jobs and $402.9 million in capital investments at the Cane Creek Centre.
"The way that our community has rebounded from the loss of one of our pillar employers in IKEA by attracting new companies to the Cane Creek Centre is a testament to the strength of our regional partnerships and our region's quality business environment" said Joe Davis, Supervisor for the Dan River District, where the Cane Creek Centre is located. "Between companies like Morgan Olson, AeroFarms, and Tyson Foods, we are thrilled with the capital investments and job creation happening in the Cane Creek Centre, which is quickly filling up."
After first locating into Pittsylvania County in 2008, IKEA employed several hundred people, and had 300 employees when it announced the closure of the facility. In a quick pivot, our local economic development team worked with State representatives to attract Morgan Olson - a reputable company that manufactures delivery vans - to locate into the Ikea facility. After originally announcing $58 million in capital investments and 703 new positions, company representatives have since said they expect to create 1,000 new jobs, and well over 400 people are already on staff.
But that isn't the end of the story: several more companies have promised to develop new facilities in the Cane Creek Centre since then. In December of 2019, AeroFarms announced that it would invest $53 million to develop an indoor vertical agricultural facility and create approximately 92 jobs. Aerofarms broke ground on that facility, which is expected to be operational by the middle of 2022, in May of this year.
In June of 2021, Walraven, Inc. announced that it would invest more than $7.1 million to relocate its headquarters from Michigan into the current Unison Tube facility. Unison, which first announced it would go to the Cane Creek Centre in 2017, is currently looking for a new home in the Danville/Pittsylvania County area. Another tenant in the park is Elkay Manufacturing, which has a 256,000 square foot manufacturing facility.
In terms of capital investments, the biggest news came in late August when Tyson Foods, one of the world's largest food manufacturers, announced that it would invest $300 million for the development of a new, 325,000 square foot facility where value-added chicken products like chicken nuggets will be produced. Approximately 376 new jobs will be created with this project, which will be the largest capital investment in Pittsylvania County's history to date. After a groundbreaking later this year, the plant is expected to become operational early in 2023.
As a result of all these announced projects, the number of available lots in the Cane Creek Centre has been reduced to just a few. Companies that are interested in locating or expanding in Danville and Pittsylvania County can view the renaming parcels in the Cane Creek Centre, which includes a ready-made shell building at the front of the park, here.