Spruce Pine – Through the efforts of the local state legislative delegation, the Town of Spruce Pine will soon see ten new jobs in downtown along with the complete renovation and redesign of the former Express Market CITGO Station building. State Representative Phillip Frye and State Senator Joe Sam Queen joined hands to advocate on behalf of the town for the funding of a $199,124 N.C. Rural Economic Development Center Building Reuse Grant to help support the project. Frye and Queen were notified late last week that the grant was approved.
Grant funds will be used to re-construct the Oak Avenue (Upper Street) building known locally as the CITGO Service Station. Vacant for a number of years, the building was recently purchased by Highland Craftsmen, Inc., a manufacturer of poplar bark shingles and specialty wood products used in the building trades. Highland is located across the street from the station property. Spokesperson Chris McCurry said “Highland plans to use the building as a design center for an expanded Barkhouse Brand product line and additional manufacturing space.” The project is part of a downtown campus plan that the company is working toward to accommodate growing demand for its products. Once complete the project will create at least ten new jobs, according to McCurry.
“This project will bring some much-needed manufacturing jobs to the town as well as serve as an integral part of the long range strategic plan Highland Craftsmen has for improving the aesthetics of that part of downtown,” Rep. Frye said. “I’m all about jobs,” Frye continued, “and this shows how the town, its businesses and state legislators can work together to make something positive happen.”
Senator Joe Sam Queen said, “I know the challenges Spruce Pine and Mitchell County have faced in recent years with the loss of so many manufacturing jobs. When we have a chance to create new jobs or save existing jobs in my district, I’ll be working actively with business and industry, local and state elected officials and state and federal agencies to make sure it happens. I was proud to help make this happen for Spruce Pine and its citizens.”
The grant is awarded to the Town on behalf of Highland Craftsmen and will be administered through execution of agreements between the company, the Town, and the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center. Highlands Craftsmen will provide over $200,000 toward project costs to match the grant funds.