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Sanford yarn maker plans expansion, hiring

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A Sanford-based yarn company plans to expand its local factory and add 45 jobs over five years, a rare bit of positive news for Lee County.

Frontier Spinning Mills' plans for the $15.5 million expansion include installing new equipment that spins cotton into yarn faster. The company, which was founded in 1996, employs more than 1,100 people in North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama, including more than 300 in Sanford.

City and county officials promised Frontier a grant worth more than $300,000 if it meets its hiring goals, said Lee County Economic Development director Bob Heuts.

Frontier chose Sanford to expand because of a skilled workforce and the financial incentives, said executive vice president John Maness, in a prepared statement. "Having our headquarters here certainly factored into the decision, but that was just one consideration," Maness said.

Today's announcement follows the news earlier this month that Pfizer will eliminate 400 jobs at its vaccine manufacturing plant in Sanford over the next five years. And Hanesbrands closed a 150-employee factory in September.

Lee County, which relies heavily on manufacturing for jobs, had an unemployment rate of 13.2 percent in March, well above the state average.

"Every manufacturer, except maybe two or three, downsized in recent years," Heuts said. "They were trying to do everything they could to stay in business."

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About the blogger

Assistant Business Editor Alan M. Wolf joined the N&O in 1999 covering the business of health care. He became an editor in 2001, and helps oversee the paper's daily business coverage and Sunday Work&Money section. He lives in Clayton with his wife and two children. Reach him at 919-829-4572 or e-mail him.