City ready to work with county on business incubator

  • Posted: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 12:54 a.m.
Brian Miller
Brian Miller

SALISBURY — City Council welcomed Rowan County’s offer to partner in a new venture to place a business incubator in the old Department of Social Services building.

“I would love to partner with them and have an incubator,” Mayor Paul Woodson said. “I’m so glad that they proposed that, and let’s look at it.”

Rowan County Board of Commissioners Vice Chairman Craig Pierce pitched the idea at Monday’s commissioners’ meeting, saying the building could be used to host the RowanWorks Economic Development Commission, along with space for a Rowan-Cabarrus Community College program and Salisbury city services.

The business incubator — a place where small start-up companies would share space, supplies and administrative staff — is one of the few bright spots in the city-county relationship lately. County commissioners are attempting to remove the Rowan County airport from the city limits, and Pierce said Tuesday night the school central office project is a “dead issue” with the county as far as he is concerned.

But everyone seems to agree the incubator concept is at least worth a look.

City Council agreed to meet with commissioners to determine the scope of the project. If the city wants to move forward, council members approved hiring a firm to study the building and determine the cost of redeveloping it.

“I want to make sure I understand what we are getting into before I say let’s go spend some money,” Councilman Brian Miller said.

Councilwoman Karen Alexander said the study should include an analysis of building materials and other environmental concerns. Buildings constructed in the 1950s are often filled with asbestos and other hazards, she said, and usually are not energy efficient or easily converted to accommodate people with disabilities.

It’s often more effective to demolish them and start over, Alexander said.

City Manager Doug Paris said he will present the cost of a study to City Council before moving forward. The city needs to ensure the incubator will be successful and help create jobs, he said.

“A little bit of sweat up front on this will make sure we don’t lose a gallon of blood later on,” Paris said.

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