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M Tortilla Chip Plant in Lincoln County to Employ

A tortilla chip maker will open a $9 million plant in Lincoln County this summer that will eventually employ 75. R.W. Garcia Company Inc. has agreed to buy a 60,650 square foot speculative building that’s being developed by The Keith Corp. of Charlotte – even before construction starts. “We were fortunate to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right product,” says Alan Lewis, industrial development partner for Keith. The plant will be in Lincoln County Industrial park off U.S. Highway 321, north of Lincolnton. The project confirms the viability of speculative buildings in the park, says Barry Matherly, executive director of Lincoln Economic Development Association. “Our indications were right because the building was sold before footings were in the ground,” he says. “The amazing thing is this project happens when people thought the economy was a little soft.” R.W. Garcia will initially spend $5 million the facility and employ 25 at an average wage of $10 per hour, the company says. In time, however, officials say the investment will grow to $9 million, and the work force will expand to 75. The Lincoln County plant will serve as the East Coast production center for R.W. Garcia. Other company facilities are in Tampa, Florida, and San Jose, California, where Garcia is based. The company scouted other states before deciding on North Carolina, says Bob Garcia, president. “Lincoln County is a great location for our company in that it has a historically good work force, great community support and it offers perfect access for our distribution needs,” he says. R.W. Garcia, which was founded in 1984, makes chips from 100% natural ingredients, with no additives or preservatives, he says. The company’s products are sold locally at Harris Teeter supermarkets under the R.W. Garcia brand. The company also makes store-brand products for other world-wide clients, including supermarkets and natural food stores. Construction of the plant should be finished in July, with production starting a few weeks later, Matherly says. The project qualifies for $81,000 in Lincoln County incentive grants, to be paid over five years.