Since 2016, Eden’s poverty rate has declined 25 percent, the real estate market has improved dramatically, and new investors have surfaced both in downtown and in its industrial areas.
On the industrial front, in September 2019, Gildan Yarns reopened the former SGRTex yarn spinning operation, adding 85 employees. Two additional projects are in the works. One is an innovative operation that will add an initial 40 jobs and the other is a fabrication company that will bring more than 30 new jobs. Both of these companies will be announced by March 2020.
Eden is a partner in the Southern Virginia Mega Site at Berry Hill by providing both water and sewer utilities to the park. The Mega Site continues to garner interest from global companies. The site has been characterized as “checking all the boxes” for a mega-site: rail, abundant utilities, broadband, etc. Both the Virginia and North Carolina Departments of Transportation are working to make the park more accessible. VDOT has approved a plan to connect Berry Hill Road, where the site is located, to the Danville Expressway. NCDOT will extend I-785 from Hicone Road in Guilford County, NC to the Virginia State Line in 2027, if not before. This will improve one of the major impediments to the park—highway accessibility.
During the last few years, Danville and Pittsylvania County have worked to transform the local workforce. They have invested heavily to establish a pipeline of high school students pursuing advanced manufacturing occupations. Rockingham Community College leaders are seeking to offer complementary workforce development programs to those offered in Danville and Martinsville, VA. The goal of this initiative is to create an unsurpassed regional workforce that will set this area apart from other sections of the county and help us compete with urban areas. The importance of a skilled workforce cannot be overstated. It has been described as the new “currency” in economic development.
Eden’s historic downtown has enjoyed an infusion of new investment. New apartments, a coffee shop, two new restaurants and a meadery/tapis bar will open by June 2020. These types of attractions are critical to attracting younger people to our community.
Since 2008, Eden has progressed forward by welcoming existing industry expansions and new companies. It is not alone among rural communities seeking to reinvent themselves and provide new opportunities for its citizens. In 2020, economic development staffs in Eden, Rockingham County, and southern Virginia communities will work together to replace jobs in existing facilities, recruit new investment, and build a talented workforce to achieve regional prosperity.