Learn about Johnston County, North Carolina, including Featured News, Key Projects, and The Team.
The County was incorporated in 1746 and was formed largely from Craven County. Located in the mid-central section of the State and the western segment of the coastal plains region, the County contains approximately 795 square miles.
The County is the fastest growing county in the State according to the United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census 2020 census data. In particular, the townships along the Johnston County/Wake County line have experienced significant growth over the past 20 to 30 years. As the population expands and transportation networks improve, the County is experiencing growth further east into central areas of the County. A significant factor to such growth is the County’s proximity to the Research Triangle Park (“RTP”) and to the City of Raleigh, the State’s capital and the major urban center of the State’s Coastal Plains region where urban development is heavily concentrated. The County offers diversified housing options which, when coupled with the job growth of the region, favorably positions the County to capitalize upon new and expanding commercial and industrial opportunities.
The County is uniquely positioned within the geographic center of the State. The Town of Smithfield, the County seat, and the Town of Benson are located midway along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States and benefit from the intersection of transcontinental Interstate 40 and Interstate 95. In addition, the Town of Selma offers a railhead at which the Norfolk-Southern Railroad intersects the CSX mainline.
Wisconsin-based Scot Industries Inc., a leading North American supplier of specialty tubing products, plans to invest at least $40 million in a new manufacturing plant in Johnston County. The privately held company selected approximately 77 acres in Four Oaks near the convergence of I-95, US 301 and US 701. Its operations here will employ a 21-person workforce.
Earlier today, the Johnston County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a nearly $1.2 million Economic Development Investment Grant, a performance-based incentive payable over five to seven years. County Commission Chairman R.S. “Butch” Lawter, Jr. says the selection by Scot Industries “kicks off 2024 on a winning note.” The company’s Johnston County facility will be its 12th location in the U.S. and Canada. “This move creates good-paying jobs, brings another prestigious name to our industrial directory and boosts the county’s economic diversification,” Lawter says.
Four Oaks town leaders will consider a similar package of municipal incentives for the project later this month. Scot Industries also will receive free customized training from Johnston Community College, in addition to about $46,000 in workforce development grants from the state’s Division of Workforce Solutions.
Scot Industries, founded in Milwaukee in 1949, produces tubing, pipe, chrome rods and other specialty products for the hydraulic and pneumatic cylinder markets, as well as the oil industry. Company officials reviewed locations in Virginia and South Carolina before selecting Johnston County. Its operations here will serve markets across the southeastern U.S. “Without a doubt, the Economic Development Incentive Grant offered by Johnston County played a tremendous role in selecting the site in Four Oaks for future investment and job creation,” says Robby Anderson, plant manager based at Scot’s corporate headquarters in Muscoda, Wisc. “We greatly appreciate the pro-
business approach and the partnership with our company, and we look forward to calling Johnston County home.”
“Project Red River,” like all projects considered for Johnston County incentives, underwent an extensive economic impact analysis. A study by Dr. Michael Walden, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics at North Carolina State University, found that Scot Industries’ new operations will add nearly $71 million to Johnston County’s
GDP each year. Its fiscal impact will also be significant, Dr. Walden found, generating nearly $675,000 in new county and municipal tax revenues annually. Salaries there will average over $60,000 per year, with new positions including sales personnel, machine operators, warehouse workers and management staff.
“Our objective has always been to drive job-creation and economic investment to every part of the county,” says Randy Jones, chairman of the 14-member Johnston County Economic Development Advisory Board. The appointed panel consists of business, civic and community leaders from the county’s 11 municipal governments. “This project
keeps us moving toward that crucial goal, and we are grateful to our state and municipal partners for their work in bringing this successful international manufacturer to Johnston County. My thanks also go out to our terrific team at Johnston County’s Office of Economic Development and our internal county government partners, whose
collaboration made this project successful,” says Jones, a resident of Pine Level.
Chris Johnson, director of the Johnston County Economic Development Office, says the arrival of Scot Industries is evidence the county’s workforce, highway infrastructure and business-focused leadership continue to consistently put Johnston County on the short list of leading mid-Atlantic manufacturing destinations. “Our value proposition hasn’t changed,” Johnson says. “We still offer a formidable range of industrial assets in a competitive cost structure.”
The Johnston County Economic Development Office (JCEDO) facilitates value-added interaction between government, education and the private sector in encouraging and promoting job creation and economic investment in Johnston County. A unit of county government, JCEDO collaborates with local, regional and statewide partners and allies in providing confidential location assistance to businesses and technical support to the county’s 11 municipalities. Its menu of services includes customized digital mapping, labor and wage analysis, site readiness assistance and incentive packaging. For additional information, visit www.GrowWithJoCo.com
(Chicago, Illinois)—Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) has awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting to County of Johnston for its annual comprehensive financial report for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2022. The report has been judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the program, which includes demonstrating a constructive "spirit of full disclosure" to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the report.
The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.
Smithfield, NC – Johnston County's growing economy and sound fiscal leadership have earned notice from two of the nation's most-watched credit ratings services as S&P Global and Moody's Investors Service announced upgrades of the County's General Obligation bond rating to AAA and Aaa, respectively. Both ratings are the highest the agencies award.
Higher credit ratings enable Johnston County to issue bonds for capital projects on more favorable borrowing terms, saving County taxpayers on debt servicing costs. The two agencies updated their ratings in conjunction with the County's upcoming issuance of $30 million in general obligation school bonds. Those funds, which Johnston County voters approved by a wide margin last November as part of a larger bond referendum, will support construction of new school facilities in Johnston County.
"This rating is another example of this Board taking steps to responsibly plan for the future of the County and continuing to stay the course,” said R.S. "Butch" Lawter, Jr., Chairman of Johnston County’s Board of Commissioners. “I want to express my gratitude to County staff and all of the Boards that came before us on their diligent work and being attentive stewards of taxpayer funds. The Triple-A ratings are excellent news for our County as we move into a period of time where there are several major projects on the horizon."
Johnston County joins just 10 other North Carolina counties in earning the highest possible credit rating from both agencies. The news comes less than two months after Johnston County Commissioners voted to reduce property tax rates from 73 cents to 69 cents per $100 in value.
The ratings services cited Johnston County’s growing population, diversified economy, proximity to a large and growing metro area, and sound fiscal management in issuing its ratings. “The upgrade of the issuer rating to Aaa reflects large surpluses recorded in fiscal 2022 and expected for fiscal 2023,” excerpts of the Moody’s reports said. “Additionally, the rating reflects a local economy which continues to increase in population. The stable outlook is based upon future economic growth potential as part of the greater Research Triangle economy, expected adherence to sound policies and growth and maintenance of reserves levels guided by a prudent management team."
S&P Global said: “The rating reflects our view of the county's growing economy, with a tax base projected to exceed $30 billion in the next three years, as well as consistently strong financial performance and flexibility, with a strong track record of proactive management practices. The county's use of conservative budgeting assumptions has typically led to positive operating results, enabling it to build and maintain very strong general fund reserves. We believe that prudent budget management and ongoing economic development will continue to support the current rating.”
North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell, who chairs the N.C. Local Government Commission, also weighed in on the accomplishment. "Johnston County is one of the fastest growing counties in the U.S. Good ratings like these just don't jump up on the table by themselves. It's thanks to the employees, taxpayers, and because of transparent, competent government led by past and present local elected officials," Folwell said.
For additional information about Johnston County, visit https://www.johnstonnc.com.