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New boat builder will create 207 jobs, invest $12 million locally

A new yacht building company is set to bring 207 new jobs and a $12 million investment to Beaufort County over the next five years, adding to the rich tradition of boat building in the area.

On Tuesday morning, Boston-based yacht manufacturer MJM Yachts announced the creation of Pamlico Yachtworks, a new manufacturing division that will be located at the Beaufort County Industrial Park on Page Road.

The ninth boatbuilding company to set up shop in Beaufort County, Pamlico Yachtworks will make its new home in the Beaufort County Committee of 100’s Industry-Ready Building, a 24,300 square foot structure that was the result of collaboration between the Committee of 100, Beaufort County Economic Development and the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners.

Completed in December 2017, the building has hosted a variety of short-term tenants since, including an American Red Cross disaster relief team after Hurricane Florence. Both BCED and the Committee of 100 have been working to market the building in the meantime. With the addition of Pamlico Yachtworks, the $1,395,000 building will now have a fulltime resident.

“Our main objective is economic development,” said Committee of 100 President Stuart O’Neal. “Anything we can do to attract people to move, live and work in Beaufort County, that’s what we want to do. We built that building specifically so we could attract a business like this.”

The availability of the Industry-Ready Building was one of a number of factors that made Beaufort County attractive to MJM Yachts, according to company president Peter Johnstone. From the proximity to the Pamlico Sound and Atlantic Ocean to lower overall costs on real estate, utilities and overhead, Johnstone says Beaufort County offers an inviting alternative to New England.

“We’re close enough to salt water to sea trial our boats,” Johnstone said. “The tradition of boat building is very important, and the tradition of boating is also important. Chances are most people working on the boats are also boaters, so they understand what we’re trying to do. That leads to better quality.”

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: MJM Yachts announced Tuesday morning that it will create a new division in Beaufort County that will create 207 new jobs. Pictured, left to right, are Beaufort County Commissioner Ed Booth, Assistant Secretary of Commerce Kenny Flowers, MJM Yachts President Peter Johnstone, Beaufort County Economic Development Director Martyn Johnson, Beaufort County Board of Commissioner Chair Jerry Evans, Washington Mayor Mac Hodges, and Committee of 100 President Stuart O’Neal. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)

As to filling the needs of that workforce, BCED Director Martyn Johnson says local schools will play a vital role in training young people for careers at Pamlico Yachtworks and other local manufacturers. Washington High School is slated to add a new boatbuilding curriculum for high school students, and Johnson says Beaufort County Community College will also play a role in giving potential employees the skills they need to be successful.

Johnson says the 207 jobs will likely be created over the course of the next five years, with 40 to 50 new positions added each year. He estimates there will be a six-to-nine-month renovation period at the site before hiring begins in force next fall. Initial estimates place average salaries for new positions at the plant above $45,000, higher than Beaufort County’s overall average wage of $37,611.

Adding to the incentives to move to the area, the company will receive a performance grant from Beaufort County government in the amount of $185,000 over five years, $154,336 in property tax incentives from the City of Washington over five years and a $1.7 million Job Development Investment Grant over 12 years through the N.C. Department of Commerce. Each of these incentives is contingent upon job creation and investment.

“This solidifies our role as a major boatbuilding and yacht building center, probably in the U.S. for that matter,” Johnson said. “We’re bringing executives in and additional employment. Manufacturing jobs are good because they have a high multiplier because of all the service and retail jobs that will follow.”

Both N.C. Senator Erica Smith and N.C. Representative Keith Kidwell expressed high hopes for the new facility in a press release shared by N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper’s office.

“This is a great day for Beaufort County,” said Smith. “Our talented boat manufacturing workforce is ready to support their new operations for many years to come.”

“This is great news for Beaufort County and eastern North Carolina that Pamlico Yachtworks has elected to locate their boat building business in Beaufort County,” Kidwell added. “Beaufort County has many people and a long history of building quality boats, and we welcome another partner in that market. They will be bringing 207 jobs that we certainly need and will be able to fill quickly.”