ROCKY MOUNT — More than a thousand new jobs are in the works for the county with the highest unemployment rate in our area.

For years this site was supposed to be the biggest investment in rural North Carolina history, but the trade war between the United States and China shut the Triangle Tyre deal down. Local leaders now say the project that replaces it could be even bigger.

Less than 24 hours after announcing Triangle Tyre pulled the plug on a proposed tire plant, Edgecombe County economic developers announced the site was likely to become an electric car battery manufacturing plant — bringing with it 1,000+ jobs and potentially billions in investment.

Carolinas Gateway Partnership leader Norris Tolson says they’re overwhelmed with interest in the Kingsboro Megasite between Rocky Mount and Tarboro. Six companies are currently looking at the site, with $17 billion in total potential investment.

“The first people that contacted us on that site said ‘I’m ready to build last week, not next week,'” said Tolson.

After Toyota announced their plan to build a battery plant in Randolph County, Edgecombe County immediately heard from companies who were looking to follow their lead.

“We think we’ll get one of these projects because right now North Carolina is struggling with megasites to fill the need for all these big battery projects,” said Tolson.

Because this site is already prepped for construction, he feels confident the next generation of car batteries will be built in Edgecombe County.

“So the fact that it is ready to go, literally ready to build on, says that it’s a prime target. So I think we’ll get a major project out there sometime before the end of the year,” he said.

The most likely scenario, Tolson says, is that one or two of the six companies decide to build in Edgecombe County. That would still mean a big investment at the Kingsboro CSX Select Megasite.

The county isn’t yet ready to name the companies interested in the site, saying they’re still working under codenames until a final decision is reached.

Carolinas Gateway Partnership had been looking for tenants for the site for about a month, since Triangle Tyre gave them notice they could do so.

“This would be a game-changer for Edgecombe County,” Tolson told WRAL News.