North Carolina Economic Development Guide

2012

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Case studies he says. "But the layout would work very well for manufacturing." In May 2010, Faris received a call Surry County's acquisition of the distribution center was a clear sign that it was determined to snatch the project from competitors. from John Corder, a representative of Fischer & Co., the Dallas-based tenant representation firm that Pittsburgh Glass Works hired to assist its search for manufac- turing locations. Soon, Faris was on the phone with Todd Tucker, president of the Surry County Economic Development Partnership. A few days later, Tucker welcomed Faris and Corder to the county and led them on a tour of the building and surrounding community. "All we had was a general sketch of what the company was looking for," Tucker recalls. "We just kicked around a few rough numbers about jobs and investment." Tucker, who had taken the reins of the partnership nine months earlier, started quietly checking in with munici- pal and county leaders about a package to lure the manufacturer. "People were hungry for news," he says. "A commis- sioner called me and said, 'Look, why don't we just buy the building and give it to them?'" The county's acquisition of the property would be a crystal-clear declaration that it was determined to compete with other suitors in Tennessee and South Carolina. Surry bought the site for about $6.6 million, well below the seller's $8.5 million asking price. In a complicated process that took months to iron out, the county was able to arrive at an agreement that enabled Pittsburgh Glass to lease the property from the county for $1 per year. Over the first five years of the arrangement, the company will pay Surry County $2 million. Pitts- burgh Glass Works will assume ownership of the building upon expiration of the 12-year lease, though it has a purchase option it may exercise before then. "There are a lot of things to think about when you buy a $6.55 million building," Tucker says. Who, for example, would insure the property during the term of the lease? How would the company expand a building it didn't actually own? Tucker, who has 54 North Carolina Economic Development Guide worked as marketing director for the N.C. Department of Commerce and on the staff of Raleigh-based Progress Energy Inc.'s economic-development team, credits the key role played by town and county attorneys and finance officers in engineering a lease-purchase agreement acceptable to all sides. "Without their help, the project would not have happened." The county's pitch was sweetened when the town offered to donate 20 acres close to the building that could accommodate expansion. "We never want to be in a position to keep one of our employers from expanding," Elkin Mayor Lestine Hutchens says. A local banker who has been involved in town government since 1992, Hutchens says the downturn that began in 2008 spurred the town to assemble an economic-development strategy that included the launch of a 22,000-square- foot workforce-development center in partnership with Surry Community College and the elevation of Elkin's economic-development officer from part to full time. "I believe these things were key in drawing Pittsburgh Glass Works here," she says. A $2 million grant from Golden LEAF, a Rocky Mount-based nonprofit that distributes the proceeds of half the state's share of the national tobacco settlement, also helped bring the project to fruition. The nonprofit, created in 1999, is no stranger to Surry County. Golden LEAF grants have helped cultivate the county's wine industry and more recently drove the establishment of workforce-development centers in Elkin and Pilot Mountain and funded the launch of Pilot Mountain Pride, a consumer-foods cooperative. Its most recent investment will enable the county to purchase equipment that it will lease to Pittsburgh Glass Works to reduce the company's startup costs. "Surry County has been a good steward of Golden LEAF resources,"

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