The U.S. Census Bureau has released 2017 data on its OnTheMap website, which is a very intuitive source for recent employment and commuting data. This data is available for most areas of the U.S., and the West Piedmont Planning District is no exception. Using this tool, we briefly explore employment concentration and major employers in Franklin County; the City of Danville and Pittsylvania County were examined last week. According to the website, data sources for this information include Unemployment Insurance Wage Records, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Quarterly Census for Employment and Wages (QCEW) (https://lehd.ces.census.gov/applications/help/onthemap.html#!data_sources).
Franklin County is an important employment center in the West Piedmont Planning District, and job concentrations can be found mostly in established population and activity centers. The figure at the bottom of this blog shows that most employment is concentrated in the Town of Rocky Mount, which is also the county’s largest population center, having an estimated population of 4,747, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014 – 2018 American Community Survey (ACS). Two major employment concentrations are shown in the town. The northern-most concentration represents the Rocky Mount – Franklin County Industrial Park, which is home to Fleetwood Homes and Empire Bakery, among other employers. The southern-most concentration of employment in the town represents the manufacturing facility of Ply-Gem Windows. Other employment in the town is represented by the retail, hospitality, health care, administrative, and education sectors.
The Village of Ferrum, located in the southwest portion of Franklin County, is another significant employment location in the county, whose main employer is Ferrum College. The 50-acre West Franklin Business Park is also located in Ferrum, though it is not yet developed. The Westlake Corner community, located in the northeast section of the county, accommodates employment primarily in the health care and retail sectors. Located just south of the Town of Rocky Mount is the Franklin County Commerce Center, and one of the major employers here is McAirlaid’s, a German-owned firm which manufactures absorbent material for a variety of uses.
In recent years, Franklin County has redeveloped a new 550-acre business park, named Summit View Business Park. This facility, located along U.S. Route 220 in the Wirtz community, is revolutionary as far as business parks go, as recreational features such as green spaces and multi-use paths are integrated into its design. Additionally, agricultural features of the land prior to development of the site, such as two farm silos and a barn, are being preserved. Furthermore, Summit View will include a new 150-space park and ride lot. Three firms have already committed to developing facilities in Summit View, including a new administrative campus for Valley Star Credit Union; Stik-Pak, which specializes in contract packaging; and Traditional Medicinals, which manufactures herbal teas.
If you are an employer in Franklin County or Rocky Mount, have employees who may have difficulty getting to work due to unreliable transportation, or would like to increase your pool of qualified employees via a more reliable transportation system, RIDE Solutions may be an answer for you. I, and/or one of our Roanoke-based colleagues, would be more than happy to meet with you to discuss how our organization can help your company reduce absenteeism and have better access to qualified employees through such means as carpools and vanpools, at no cost to you. The RIDE Solutions app is a revolutionary way for your employees to connect with other carpoolers in the region for free, and travel to work together. Likewise, if you’re an employee in Franklin County or elsewhere in the West Piedmont Planning District and you lack reliable transportation to work, this app may be a solution for you! Check out our site, www.ridesolutions.org today to learn more about our organization and download the app for free!