EDC: Companies still looking

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
Recruiting industries in good times is tough.
Recruiting industries and new jobs in the current economy is a nearly Hurculean task.
The good news is companies are looking for new locations ó and some are looking in Rowan County.
Robert Van Geons, executive director of the Salisbury-Rowan Economic Development Commission, updated commissioners last week on recruiting efforts.
While much of the discussion focused on the county-owned Summit Corporate Center, Van Geons said companies are continuing to look. With the economy, competition has gotten fierce.
He said the goal of economic development in the current economy is taking one step back, while everybody else is taking two steps back.
He cited three projects “kicking dirt” at Summit. One company is pricing building costs.
One of the companies is based in the Southeast while the others are from the Midwest.
During budget discussion last June, the Economic Development Commission agreed to take over marketing of the industrial park off I-85 at Julian Road.
The commission agreed to use $60,000 of its fund balance for a marketing effort, including a new Web site and print media.
Van Geons said seven companies have toured the park and representatives of two international development companies have visited the park.
Part of the marketing campaign includes direct mail to brokers, developers and companies through the Southeast.
The theme for the Summit campaign is that Rowan County is in the center of a region with 3.75 million people, more than any other city in North Carolina.
“We’re in the best 60-mile drivetime outside of Atlanta,” Van Geons said. “It’s a premier location.”
That theme extends to all industrial sites countywide.
In many cases, companies looking for new locations are planning to consolidate several operations in one site.
Companies looking these days are generally in the business of consumer staples, personal care, food and distribution.
“A lot of the country isn’t seeing any projects. Here, at least we are seeing some,” Van Geons said.
Among projects floating around in the last 90 days is one company that would bring 1,000 jobs.
Van Geons said it will be up to Gov. Beverly Perdue and the N.C. Department of Commerce to decide if North Carolina is going to go after the big projects.
Van Geons also noted that some local businesses are considering expansion.
Later this month, the EDC will make a presentation to the N.C. Department of Commerce regarding opportunities in North Carolina.