A Thriving Business Community
Long an agricultural center, Franklin County is fast becoming a regional business center thanks to an effective planning process, a supportive business climate, and excellent workforce development.
The County Administrator and the Town Manager assist industries and employers that are expanding or developing new facilities in Franklin County, and are responsible for general economic planning. It also is part of the seven-jurisdiction Roanoke Valley Economic Partnership.
Franklin County Business Development, Inc., a not-for-profit agency, helps startups, business expansions and individuals through business training programs and small loans for entrepreneurs. More than 85 businesses and 350 individuals have been helped by the agency over the past six years.
The Franklin County Workforce Development Consortium represents a unique collaboration of 13 partners made up of the local school system, colleges, government, and community-based agencies for the purpose of promoting workforce and economic development in the community. Services to employers include the following: business development, employee recruitment, customized training and financial training incentives. Services to citizens include: career exploration, job placement assistance and training programs ranging from GED and high school diploma testing to certificates and degrees at the community college level.
The result is an educated workforce of some 26,000 who can meet todays business needs. These people are working in manufacturing (27.6%), retail (18.5%), service industries (21.1%), government (14.2%) and other industries (18.7%).
Business is thriving in Franklin County, especially for companies that manufacture housing or home-related products.
The largest employer is MW Manufacturers, makers of wood windows and door units, with a payroll of almost 1,200. The 70-year-old company, now part of Fenway Partners, Inc., still retains its corporate headquarters in Franklin County. Picture frame/wall decor manufacturer Uttermost, which employs approximately 250 people, is one of Virginias "fantastic fifty" fastest-growing companies.
Other major companies include Cooper Wood Products (frames and doors 308 employees), Ronile, Inc. (carpet yarn 300 employees), Trinity Packaging, Inc. (300 employees), Fleetwood Homes of Virginia (manufactured housing 229 employees), Newbold Corporation (credit card imprinters 144 employees) and modular home manufacturers Mod-U-Kraf Homes and North American Housing (approximately 120 employees each).
Agriculture is still important in Franklin County and generates almost $45 million in sales annually. Some 158,000 acres, or 36% of the total land area in the county, is devoted to agricultural production. While the number of farms has declined, farm size, harvested acreage, productivity and net profits have increased. Dairy farming and livestock dominate, while corn, tobacco and fruit are the major crops. Although seventh in land area, Franklin County is the second leading dairy producer and the home of Select Sire Power, provider of leading genetics for dairy and beef cattle.
For companies looking to do business, the future is bright in Franklin County.
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