RadixBay, an information technology consulting company, won’t set any records for the 19 jobs it will bring to Tabor City, but the announcement is significant in a number of ways.
For the first time in recent memory, Columbus County has attracted a company that is entirely high-tech and relies on computer-savvy employees.
It’s a small step from the tobacco- and textile-based economy that provided a living for generations of families here; yet, RadixBay will give students from Columbus County who have computing skills the option to stay at home instead of moving to Charlotte or Raleigh.
That’s why Columbus Jobs Foundation Chairman Rick Edwards called the announcement a “game-changer,” not because of the number of employees or the investment, but because of the quality of jobs.
RadixBay’s CEO is one reason the company is coming to Tabor City. Greg Lovette graduated from Tabor City High School in 1983. He understood that computers and information technology were the future and studied computer science at UNC-Wilmington.
For many years, the United States provided much of the computing and IT world’s consulting brainpower, but as the world changed, much of this work shifted offshore to countries like India and Pakistan.
The labor was much cheaper and companies in those countries competed successfully for business.
Lovette, however, saw that rural counties like Columbus had the same brain power as other locales and countries; yet, they were left behind.
Because the cost of living, land and facilities are so much cheaper in places like Columbus County, it made sense to experiment with rural consulting centers.
A similar operation in Charlotte would mean high-dollar facilities; plus, employees with technology degrees in cities require much higher salaries due to the cost of living. Additionally, Lovette believes that American customers will communicate better when talking with other Americans.
The RadixBay experiment, if it can be called that, is an important one if Columbus County is to attract high-tech jobs.
First, hats off to Lovette for giving Columbus County a shot to host a high-tech computing company. Also, a number of players, from local volunteer economic development groups to local and state governments and agencies, chipped in both money and man hours to bring the deal to fruition.
So, the next time someone complains about the county’s young people leaving the area for better and higher-paying jobs, they will mostly be right.
However, one day we hope we can look at RadixBay as it grows and perhaps pulls in similar businesses, and remember the watershed year that Columbus County showed that it could compete, albeit on a smaller scale, with the rest of the world for high-tech computing jobs.