The words from James Reese, CEO of TigerSwan, were somewhat jarring, but his sentiment was true. Reese and his staff at TigerSwan's Training Collaboration Center and Sportsman's Outdoor Shooting Range near Cedar Creek and Stedman, hosted a delegation of leaders from the Fayetteville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce, Cumberland County and the business community Wednesday morning.
The group was visiting the center to help dispel myths about the facility and the grounds and its impact on neighboring homes and farmland. A recent Appellate Court ruling overturned zoning that allowed the facility to be built on agricultural land without having to rezone. The facility was classified as a school, which allowed the zoning in the first place. If the ruling is not overturned, or the land is not re-zoned, the facility will be forced to shut down.
TigerSwan is a Service-Disabled, Veteran Owned small business who, since opening their operation, has pumped in excess of $1.38 million directly into our local economy. They have created 36 jobs, six of which earn in excess of $85,000 annually. Both owners, each Purple Heart recipients have a 25 year history in our County. They have a pending additional investment of $9.5 - $15 million with the prospect of significant additional investment in the future.
"The Chamber appreciates the investment of time made by those who found time in their busy schedules to accompany us to the TigerSwan Training Collaboration Center in Stedman," said Chamber of Commerce President & CEO, Doug Peters. "TigerSwan is a high-growth company serving the defense, law enforcement, emergency management and sportsman communities and has chosen to invest heavily in our market."
TigerSwan leases the land from Stewart Precythe, an agricultural company that grows a variety of crops on the land surrounding the facility. The land it leases is 1,046 acres, but the facility itself is on only 200 or so of those acres. TigerSwan chooses to have the large land area to help accomidate Department of Defense safety standards for a shooting facility. While there is live ammunition shot on the site, it is only done within the confines of the shooting ranges, which are 2.5 miles from the closest homes. The drive from the highway to the actual facility is 1.72 miles. Those homes fall well outside the Surface Danger Zone established by the Department of Defense. And between the end of the Surface Danger Zone and the nearest homes are 836 acres of densely wooded wetlands.
"But we're not just about shooting," Reese said. "We're about making sure our law enforcement, first responders and military officials are prepared for everything. And we focus on giving back to the community we're in. We want to partner to make our communities better. For whoever much is given, much is required. We've been given a lot and want to give back just as much."
If TigerSwan continues with its expansion plans, the facility will have eight ranges, a rubble development and other training resources for military, law enforcement and first responders. Some $15 million in direct investment would come from that expansion, which would also have indirect impact on the businesses in the area. TigerSwan estimates that there has been a quarter-million dollar direct impact to the businesses off Exit 49 of Interstate 95, just from having the one range.
"To be certain, TigerSwan embellishes the virtues of the types of companies that we seek to attract to the community" Peters said. "And our experience with them this week substantiated our choice to recruit them to the area in 2008."
The facility has received just one complaint for sound in the year it has been open, and says that ambient noise from nearby highways typically registers higher than anything from their facility would during the day.
"The bottom line is we have to have permission to have this facility here," Reese said. "We wanted a safe facility that met and exceeded all known standards, and we achieved that here. Now we just need the zoning piece to continue providing the economic investment.
"It just comes down to whether they want that investment in the community. We have options and we can probably go elsewhere, but we really feel like this area has the potential to be a centerpiece for the on-the-ground pieces that our defense industry needs."
The Impact of Supporting Local
By choosing to patronize locally owned establishments, you make a positive impact on our community in many ways. Here are just 5 of them:
1. Environment - By buying things made closer to home, you’re cutting down on fossil fuel use, reducing your carbon impact and saving money.
2. Local Economy - Local businesses buy more often from other local businesses, so the money you spend is retained in the community in a more concentrated fashion.
3. Local Flavor - The experience at a local establishment is completely unique – providing the local flavor of the area
4. Community Care - Local entrepreneurs are more connected to our community, because they live here, too. They are more likely than their non-local businesses to get involved in community efforts.
5. Voicing Your Opinion - You are voting with your dollar to say, “Hey, I like this place and the neighborhood wouldn’t be the same without it.”