North Carolina Economic Development Guide


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���We knew it would take an industrial client who really had a feel for how to appreciate the natural assets.��� brewery in the western part of the state since Prohibition. All that beer goes to ���ll frosty mugs and is used as an ingredient in everything from onion rings to ice cream. Events such as the Brew Cruise tasting tour and the Brewgrass Festival celebrate the city���s passion for the industry and its product. S ierra Nevada was impressed by the environmental focus of AdvantageWest, whose programs temper economic opportunity with respect for natural resources. Schjeldahl liked the con���dence AdvantageWest of���cials had in local economic developers, and his search soon led to Andrew Tate, president and CEO of Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development, and the 262-acre Ferncliff Industrial Park in Mills River. Once little more than a farming outpost, the town is now a hot spot in western North Carolina���s economic landscape. Its nearly 6,900 residents bene���t from vibrant tourism and retiree migration to nearby Flat Rock and Hendersonville and by industrial and commercial growth to its north in Asheville���s suburbs. While the town has convenient access to transportation infrastructure such as Interstate 26 and Asheville Duke Energy Corp.���s Site Readiness Program, along with certi���cation from the N.C. Department of Commerce, assured Sierra Nevada that the site in Henderson County would be free of worries. 32 North Carolina Economic Development Guide Regional Airport, it also abuts Pisgah National Forest, which was one of the ���rst national forests in the eastern United States. Residents maintain a healthy regard for the environment and have a desire for balanced growth. ���We knew it would take an industrial client who really had a feel for how to appreciate the natural assets around [the site],��� says Randy Broome, a consultant working with Charlotte-based Duke Energy Corp.���s Site Readiness Program. As part of the utility���s efforts to assist the communities it serves, he was dispatched to Henderson County in 2008 to help prepare Ferncliff for a potential client. Since launching the program in 2004, Duke has helped prep 94 sites for the industrial real-estate market. ���We come in and look at a site through the client���s eyes,��� Broome says. Local development organizations apply and pay a modest fee to have their industrial sites and parks assessed by professional site hunters. ���We want to make sure they have some skin in the game.��� Once accepted into the Site Readiness Program, communities tap the technical expertise of Greenville, S.C.based McCallum Sweeney Consulting LLC, whose location-advisory clients have included Boeing, Nissan and Dollar General. Duke picks up the tab for the bulk of the program���s services, which Broome says can amount to $35,000. The Site Readiness Program takes about six months, says Mark Sweeney, senior principal at McCallum Sweeney Consulting. It has two objectives. First, it helps local leaders understand the information businesses look for when evaluating locations. Second, it uncovers barriers that might limit development at a site. Hurdles might be as obvious as ownership and availability of land but can also include issues such as soil quality, road access or a ���oodplain. Despite a few manageable obstacles, Sweeney says ���no big red ���ags��� were found at Ferncliff. Armed with encouraging feedback from the Site Readiness Program, Hender-

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