Town of Tabor City
Tabor City’s roots are firmly planted in agriculture and natural resources. Located in western Columbus County, near the South Carolina border, it was incorporated in 1905, and soon the first of three tobacco warehouses opened. Two lumber companies formed in the 1940s. And on the fourth Saturday of October, the town continues a celebration that dates back to the 1930s: the North Carolina Yam Festival.
With a population of 2,625, Tabor City today is making the transition from an economy based on agriculture and textiles to one encompassing light manufacturing, service, retail and tourism. New companies locating here in recent years include a linen service supply, a specialty metal products fabricator, a ductwork manufacturer, a warehouse/distribution center and industrial fibers plant.
To prepare for the transition, the town worked with the state Department of Transportation to open a visitors center in a renovated service station. It also purchased and donated to the state land for a new correctional facility. Improvements to water and sewer systems, roads and storefronts have been started or completed. The town also has purchased four acres to expand its park.
Much remains to be accomplished, however, and the challenges will be great. A high poverty rate (26 percent) limits the ability to raise funds for improvements, and Columbus, a Tier 1 county, is similarly hampered.
Long beset by poverty and high unemployment, Tabor City is now ready to grasp the potential represented by two economic developments. It already feels some effects of spillover beach development. It lies about an hour inland from South Carolina’s Grand Strand and North Carolina’s Brunswick County beaches, where retirement communities are booming. Furthermore, the Tabor City Correctional Institute is opened in September 2008. The state prison will eventually house 1,500 inmates and employ more than 550 workers, making it the largest economic engine in the town’s history. The question now before the town is how to capitalize on these developments.
A Tabor City citizens academy met for 20 sessions in 2006 and 2007 to develop a long-range strategic plan. Those goals will help guide the town’s work under the NC STEP program: 1) Better promote the town to the nearby beaches, tourists and individuals wishing to relocate. 2) Attract newcomers by improving livability. 3) Promote small business development.
Bettina M. Cox, Promotions Director
PO Box 655
Tabor City, NC 28463
Tabor City is making the transition from an economy based on agriculture and textiles to one encompassing light manufacturing, service, retail and tourism. The town is working to promote small business development while attracting tourists and home buyers.