S & A Railroad Ties, LLC is set to begin operations in Fair Bluff soon and is partnering with Southeastern Community College to offer pre-employment skills classes for prospective employees in the coming weeks.
Classes at SCC will begin on Sept. 26 to train potential S&A employees.
S & A Railroad Ties will renew, recycle and repurpose railroad ties and other forms of treated wood. The company will bring the railroad ties and other treated wood from four other states to Columbus County where the wood will be graded for quality. The majority of the wood will be chipped and used as feedstock for an alternative energy product to be produced at the former Georgia Pacific plant in Whiteville.
S&A expects to employ about 50 people locally.
Fourteen-hundred railroad ties were offloaded by R.J. Corman Railroad Friday in Fair Bluff in preparation for operations to begin. The firm will support the codenamed “Project Black,” expected to occupy the old Georgia-Pacific site between Whiteville and Chadbourn.
S&A is located at the old McNeill/Thompson cotton gin/tobacco warehouse site at the western side of the Fair Bluff town limits before an anticipated eventual relocation to the G-P site, and Friday’s offloading of railroad ties was in preparation for the beginning of the SCC classes.
Ron Gaskins, who grew up and still lives in the Pireway community, is heading up Georgia-based S&A’s local operation.
“It’s an honor. I’m proud to be a part of it,” Gaskins said. “The county needs it. I’ll be glad when that plant opens (at the G-P site) and I’ll be glad when we’ve got train cars coming through with the train horns blowing in our towns.”
All S&A classes at SCC will meet Monday through Thursday on the college campus in T-building, room 122. Interested individuals must participate in one of the following sessions: Sept. 26–Oct. 6 from 8:30 a.m.–12:30pm; Sept. 26–Oct. 6 from 5:30 p.m.–9:30p.m.; Oct. 10–Oct. 20 from 8:30 a.m.–12:30p.m.; or Oct. 10–Oct. 20 from 5:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m.
To be considered for employment by S&A, potential employees must have proof of completing the SCC classes. On completion of those classes, prospective employees will apply at Coastal Group Staffing at 2268 James B. White Hwy. N, Whiteville.
Those interested can contact the Columbus County NC Works Career Center at 910-642-7141, ext. 261, or visit the center in the A-Building at SCC.
Beverlee Nance, vice president of workforce development for SCC, and Mark Lennon, director of industrial and workforce training at the college, were on hand Friday to watch the offloading of ties in Fair Bluff.
Also present was a representative of “Project Black,” the still-unnamed company that expects to locate in the old G-P site in the near future.
That Project Black official, who – like his company – cannot be identified now, heaped praise on Columbus Jobs Foundation head Rick Edwards and on R.J. Corman Railroad for their efforts to make things happen here.
“This is a project that is coming to culmination,” S&A’s Gaskins said. “It’s going to be a good relationship between S&A and our partners, Project Black and R.J. Corman, and it’s going to be a good thing for economic development in Columbus County.”