NEW BERN — White River Marine Group, LLC, a leading manufacturer of recreational boats, will open a manufacturing facility in Craven County, with a target of 500 jobs, Governor Roy Cooper announced last week. The company will make a significant investment in New Bern, creating its first coastal manufacturing site and adding Hatteras to its portfolio of well-known brands.
“Boat and marine manufacturing requires specialized and experienced workers, and White River Marine knows our state can deliver the people they need to successfully expand their business in New Bern,” said Governor Cooper.
White River Marine Group (WRMG), an affiliate of Missouri-based Bass Pro Shops, is the world’s largest manufacturer of boats. Founded by noted angler and conservationist Johnny Morris, WRMG builds legendary performance boat brands like TRACKER, the No. 1 fishing boat in America for the past 45 years and ASCEND, the world’s best-selling kayaks. Other leading brands include MAKO, Ranger, Nitro, Triton, Tahoe and more.
The expansion will shift the focus of the company’s saltwater manufacturing from the Midwest to the sea, closer to the saltwater market and a thriving community of craftsmen and women. The company will continue to support and grow Hatteras, as well as relocate production of iconic saltwater boat brands MAKO and Ranger Saltwater to New Bern, which is a premier location for saltwater fishing.
Plans call for a major investment to modernize the Hatteras facility and establish a state-of-the-art coastal manufacturing center generating hundreds of new jobs. Consistent with Bass Pro’s reputation for turning shopping for outdoor gear into an experiential adventure, the plant will offer customers demo rides on the Atlantic Ocean and opportunities to tour the factory. It will also serve as an R&D center for sea-trialing and product development across all three brands.
“With Hatteras’ rich heritage of craftsmanship and access to some of the world’s best offshore angling, our aim is to help solidify New Bern as the world’s capital for saltwater gamefish and boat building,” said noted conservationist and avid angler Johnny Morris, who founded and grew both Bass Pro Shops and White River Marine Group to become North America’s premier outdoor and conservation company. “We love the passion for fishing and commitment to craftsmanship found in New Bern. We’re very grateful to Governor Cooper and his team, as well as local officials and leaders including Craven County Manager Jack Veit and Craven County Board of Commissioners Chairperson Jason Jones for their genuine welcoming spirit and their leadership in supporting our vision to invest in this incredible angling community.”
“The marine trades are an important part of North Carolina’s heritage,” said N.C. Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “It’s great to see a company with the leadership and reputation of White River Marine choose our state for this important expansion of their company.”
The regional economy will benefit from a more than $22 million payroll impact each and every year. White River Marine’s JDIG agreement could also move as much as $604,600 into a fund that helps rural communities across the state attract business in the future.
“Great economic development announcements don’t happen by themselves,” said state Sen. Norm Sanderson (R-Craven). “I’m proud of the many community partners that worked tirelessly behind the scenes to help us reach this achievement. All of us will continue to support the company as they put down roots and grow here.”