Welcome, Emser Tile

Published 8:25 pm Friday, February 12, 2016

Suffolk’s CenterPoint Intermodal Center will gain a new tenant by the end of the year, and the news was a big enough deal that it came by way of the governor’s office this week.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office issued a press release Thursday morning to announce the decision by Emser Tile to locate a $16.25-million warehouse/distribution center in the intermodal park. The company expects the facility to employ 98 people, at salaries ranging from $35,000 for warehouse workers to $60,000 for management, according to Suffolk Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes.

CenterPoint continues to attract new tenants, and every new announcement has been a big deal. McAuliffe made the announcement when furniture-maker Friant and Associates, the most recent company to build there, chose the site. Previously his predecessor, Bob McDonnell, had announced the plans of Ace Hardware to become the first CenterPoint tenant.

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The fact that governors are so interested in being associated with economic development is hardly surprising. However, there’s more to these announcements than just an opportunity to be seen as a job creator. CenterPoint is a make-or-break proposition for the Port of Virginia, and the project has rightly been smack in the middle of both governors’ radar.

Larger ships, increasing imports and Hampton Roads transportation problems, among other factors, have made Suffolk a prime spot for warehousing and distribution centers, and the city’s ability to attract companies interested in building such facilities will be a linchpin in the future success of the commonwealth’s ports in Hampton Roads.

As the successes pile up, the effect should reinforce itself. Success will breed success.

Of course, there are limiting factors, and none quite so limiting as the city’s own traffic problems, especially on Route 58. But recent comments from McAuliffe — along with his continuing apparent interest in the long-term success of CenterPoint and a relatively high state ranking of a proposed widening project for the road — give the city reason for optimism that Virginia might soon provide the funds needed to improve that important trucking corridor.

We welcome Emser Tile to Suffolk. And we have high hopes that the next announcement from the governor’s office about Suffolk will be to say that funds for Route 58 are on the way and construction is set to begin.