GASTON COUNTY – The industrial company KNOLL America Inc. selected the Applecreek Corporate Center in Gaston County as the site for the company’s North American headquarters location, which will also include an operations and manufacturing facility, occupying about 60,000 square feet.

The company will invest $7.8 million in the facility, and the company will hire for 31 jobs at the 12-acre.  The jobs will average $51,869, with an approximate economic impact due to payroll estimated at $1.6 million.  The company currently has one North Carolina-based employee.

The company is a supplier of conveyor and filtration systems, and its clients include Apple, according to Lothar Burger, CEO of KNOLL America, who spoke at an event at Gaston College announcing the project.

KNOLL America is a subsidiary of the German-based KNOLL Maschinebau GmbH, which was founded in 1970 by Walter Knoll, and is now run by Matthias and Jürgen Knoll.

The deal includes a performance based grant of $75,000 from the One North Carolina Fund, which provides financial assistance to local governments to help attract economic investment and to create jobs.

Globally, the company employs 1,200, said Burger, noting that most employees stay with the company for more than 30 years, and that the company’s apprenticeship program is very important.

“Most of our employees come out of our apprenticeship program, it’s very important we find the same programs in the U.S.,” said Burger.  The announcement came at Gaston College, based in Dallas, North Carolina, which is the site of the Gaston College Apprenticeship 321 program, named the 2021 Outstanding Apprenticeship Partner at the ApprenticeshipNC Conference in April.

Another factor in the company’s decision was the proximity of the Gaston County site to Charlotte Douglas Airport and the seaports in Charleston, S.C., and Wilmington, N.C., Burger shared.

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The company will be based in the Applecreek Corporate Center, a project initially formulated six years ago, on which groundbreaking occurred in June 2020, according to Donny Hicks, the executive director of the Gaston County Economic Development Commission.  Another corporate tenant at the site is Dutch-based GNT, which operates a natural food coloring manufacturing facility at the site, investing $30 million in its first U.S. facility.

Gaston County appeals to foreign direct investment, particularly small- to middle-market companies that are seeking U.S. locations, said Hicks, as they’re often seeking partners that can and will assist them in setting up operations, facilities, and teams.

“We’ve had a successful run with foreign direct investment,” said Hicks.  “About half the projects we’ve done in the last ten years are ones with foreign direct investment.”  Hicks estimated that there are more than 1,000 foreign firms in the Greater Charlotte area, which includes Gaston County, that have facilities based in the region.

“Our economy today, compared to where it was 30 or 40 years ago, we’ve gone through a major transformation, and we’ve done that through human capital and physical assets,” said Hicks.