by: Holly Maynard Updated:
LINCOLN COUNTY, N.C. - More than 450 jobs are coming to Lincoln County. One state representative told Eyewitness News it's the biggest economic announcement to hit that area since he can remember.
Word that Rato Power and Denver Global Products were hiring spread fast. Eyewitness News ran into Elbert McClain outside the Lincoln County company on Tuesday. He said he was unemployed for about a year. When we asked what it's been like, he said, "Eating what you can and living the best way you can."
McClain is one of the more than 300 people who have applied for a job there in just the past week. The companies make engines for ATVs, motorcycles and more.
Eyewitness News has followed the growth of the companies since February when it was announced that Rato Power, based in China, had acquired Denver Global and announced plans to locate its first North American headquarters here.
When the companies decided to expand, they also looked in Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina but ultimately chose Lincoln County in part because of the proximity of Charlotte Douglas Airport, since some employees travel to China often.
Grants from the state also helped.
"Through all those factors we were able to stay in Lincoln County," said Roger Leon, the CEO.
Leon has promised the state he'll hire 450 people within four years, but he said that number will probably be much higher -- closer to 1,000 employees -- for positions in manufacturing, finance and more.
Right now, the unemployment rate in Lincoln County is about 10 percent. North Carolina House Rep. Jason Saine said the jobs announcement is a huge shot in the arm for Lincoln County.
"The ripple effect can be huge," Saine said.
Saine also said local businesses should have more customers with all the new employees in town, and he hopes this is just the start of even more jobs announcements.
"Once we get a large company like that, other companies start looking. It could be a great economic tool for us to attract more business," he said.
For more information about the company, click here.