As textile plants have continued to close across North Carolina, the state is seeing a number of food producers step in and open or expand facilities in those areas of the state.
One of the byproducts of the decline in textile manufacturing in the state is that a number of counties now find themselves with an abundance of water and sewer capacity not being used.
If there's one thing textile manufacturers and food processing plants have in common it's that they both require a lot of water and sewer capacity to operate their businesses.
Ed Reser, CEO of Reser's Fine Foods, said this week that among the reasons his company picked Halifax in 2000 was its abundance of water and sewer capacity.
In Randolph County, where cereal-maker Malt-O-Meal has opened a plant, economic development officials are using their water and sewer capacity as a major selling point in trying to land food processing companies.
Reser's is building an entirely new plant that could end up being as large as 450,000 square feet. That's in a addition to an existing 250,000-square-foot plant that employs about 400 people.
The new plant will focus on the production of Mexican foods, including tortillas, taco chips and products for enchiladas and burritos.
The new jobs will pay, on average, $23,656, according the N.C. Commerce Department.
And that's the real rub for places like Halifax.
The county needs good, reliable jobs to replace all the ones that have disappeared in recent years. Companies like Reser's, a family business, are great because food processing isn't something that can suddenly be done in another country for less money.
And Reser's has proven to be resilient during the downturn. Ed Reser said his company's sales were up a little over 10 percent in 2009.
But although food processing jobs may pay more than the country average in many instances, they aren't the kind of high-paying jobs that will ultimately help a place like Halifax retain its best and brightest.