North Carolina Economic Development Guide


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22 North Carolina Economic Development Guide complemented a performance- based grant worth up to $250,000 from the One North Carolina Fund. The Commerce Department's rural development program of ered a $500,000 grant, which along with local contributions will pay for a $2 million access road tough enough to handle heavy truck traf c. "Collaboration is absolutely something we like to see when we review grant requests," says N.C. Commerce Secretary John E. Skvarla III. "Economic development begins at the local level, but that doesn't mean local governments and organizations should be working in silos." Collaboration alone won't strengthen a weak proposal, he says, but it's a positive sign. "It means an initiative has a broader base of local stakeholders. We like to know there are others with skin in the game." Dan Gerlach agrees. He's president of Rocky Mount-based Golden LEAF Foundation. It distributes money from the state's share of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, improving and transforming the economies of once tobacco-dependent regions of the state. Seeing communities working together on a request "typically means a project has been given more forethought," he says. "It also shows greater leverage and the potential for a broader impact." The foundation gave $900,000 for water-and-sewer infrastructure improvements to accommodate Wal-Mart's arrival and $250,000 more after Lidl's commitment. Skvarla says North Carolina Commerce Park was the smart place for Lidl to introduce itself to American shoppers. "This is clearly a good strategic decision by Lidl to put a regional headquarters and distribution center in North Carolina. By locating here, it can take advantage of our great workforce and infrastructure as it builds its presence in the United States." North Carolina Commerce Park wasn't the fi rst of its kind in the state. That title goes to North Mecklenburg Industrial Park in Huntersville, which is north of Charlotte and adjacent to Lake Norman, the largest water body within the state. Lake Norman Regional Economic Development, which sprouted from collaboration among the cities of Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson, developed the park in 2003. "That was the fi rst one that took hold," says Ernie Pearson, president of the 600-member Raleigh-based North Carolina Economic Developers Association. An attorney with Columbia, S.C.-based Nexsen Pruet LLC's Raleigh of ce and a former Commerce assistant secretary, he pioneered the intergovernmental agreements that set the stage for multicounty industrial parks. Those statutes allow counties and towns to acquire land and develop business parks. "Anything a local government can do, they can also partner with another local government to do," he says. Local governments also can contract with local companies or organizations to provide services in developing, managing or marketing industrial parks. "We need more product development in the state — not just the big megaparks but smaller high-quality sites and buildings, too. For some communities, the way to do that is to partner with other communities." Near Raleigh, Franklin, Granville, Vance and Warren counties created Triangle North, which Pearson proclaims the standard for multicounty industrial-park initiatives. "It's the biggest one, and it has gotten the most fl ash." Each county developed an industrial property with 21st-century infrastructure around an asset that is complementary within the group. Triangle North-Franklin is adjacent to Triangle North Executive Airport and its 5,500-foot asphalt runway. Vance's park has ready access to I-85. Vance- Triangle North-Franklin is adjacent to Triangle North Executive Airport in Franklin County. It is an example of the assets available at North Carolina industrial parks. Photo courtesy of Triangle North.

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