Fixture firm to expand, add 120 jobs

Published 2:09 am Friday, May 18, 2007

By Staff
Renovations funded in part by $240,000 grant from state
News Editor
When Impressions Marketing Group set up shop in Beaufort County in 2001, founder Rick Gerber had a simple list of standards his new spot had to meet.
The site also happened to be the former Hamilton Beach plant in Washington, which employed about 1,500 people before that firm’s manufacturing jobs were relocated to Mexico. Fixture manufacturer Impressions was coming into a county that had a 12 percent unemployment rate.
Gerber knew the figures. But he wasn’t quite prepared for the faces behind them.
The company, which makes display cases, signs and such for retail stores, employs 162 people in Beaufort County. And though the county’s unemployment rate is only 6 percent now, the desperation for jobs here is palpable.
So county and company officials didn’t let the rain get in the way of Impressions’ expansion party Thursday. The company, which is based in Lorton, Va., will expand its Beaufort County operation, adding 120 jobs and investing $3.25 million here in the next three years. The expansion will be funded in part by a $240,000 state grant.
Plans are for the Beaufort County Committee of 100 to acquire the Impressions building from the City of Washington. The Committee of 100 is a nonprofit group that exists to bring jobs to the county, according to its mission. After the transfer, there are plans for $3.7 million in upgrades, which will be financed through a combination of grants.
The grant announced Thursday is from the One North Carolina Fund, which is used to attract and retain industry in the state by offering business owners economic incentives to be here.
And Thompson said the county wants to keep the plant here, because he know Gerber’s “options are wide open,” to go elsewhere.