• 36°

By Mark Wineka
Salisbury Post
The Salisbury-Rowan Economic Development Commission’s board of directors extended Executive Director Randy Harrell’s contract by four years and gave him a raise Wednesday.
Harrell received a 3 percent raise, bringing his annual salary to $103,318.
A personnel committee of the board recommended the raise and the contract extension through June 30, 2011.
Harrell also receives a one-time bonus of $5,000 and $2,500 to disburse to his staff, Stuart Hair and Bettina Dickert.
Harrell has been with the Economic Development Commission nearly 81/2 years.
Commission Chairman Bruce Jones said the salary increase and contract extension came as a recommendation from the personnel committee because of the outstanding year the agency had completed.
In particular, Jones noted, Harrell and his staff had worked hard in landing Toyota Racing Development to an industrial site off Peach Orchard Road.
The commission plans to host a reception for Toyota Racing Development July 25, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Salisbury Station.
The reception will include catering from Hendrix Barbecue and a bluegrass band. Some 360 invitations will go out.Harrell said it will be a casual affair, where shorts, T-shirts and sandals will be appropriate attire.
Money to pay for the reception has come from the private sector, including banks, the Rowan Jobs Initiative and Miller-Davis Studios.
“We want this to be a community event,” Harrell said.
Harrell called board members’ attention to a newspaper article detailing plans for a new regional retail center at Julian and Klumac roads along Interstate 85.
He said the Economic Development Commission had worked closely in recent years with Charlotte developer Collett & Associates and one of its principals, Michael Smith.
“We led the way on the project,” he said. “We’re glad it’s going to materialize.”
Collett & Associates had looked at other sites, including Summit Corporate Center and the former Bendix property. Harrell said he set up a meeting between Lee and Victor Wallace and Smith which apparently has led to their joint venture, a proposed 358,000-square-foot retail center whose main anchors will include a home improvement center and department store.
The commission also connected Collett & Associates with City Manager David Treme and the city planning staff, Harrell said.
In other discussions, Harrell said it was “unbelievable” what is happening with the expansion of Harmony Labs in Landis and the company’s multimillion-dollar transformation of the former 122,000-square-foot Wal-Mart store on Cannon Boulevard.He described it as one of the best-kept secrets in Rowan County and “truly a success story.”
“I would love to take this board out there,” Harrell said.
Harmony looks to be growing toward 500 employees, according to the Economic Development Commission.
Elsewhere, Project Manager Stuart Hair said he recently visited PGT Industries, which moved into the former GDX building off Heilig Road in 2006.
The company makes custom doors and windows and specializes in making them hurricane resistant.
Roughly 400 employees are working at the plant, where the company has spent about $5 million retrofitting and plans more upgrades, Hair said.
The growth of the plant has been affected adversely by a downturn in the construction industry, Hair said.
PGT used to be located in Davidson County but was looking for a bigger facility.
Harrell said the Salisbury-Rowan Economic Development Commission did not steal PGT from Davidson County. Rather, it prevented the company from leaving North Carolina for South Carolina, he said.Starting in July, the commission will have two new members: Livingstone President Jimmy Jenkins and James Taylor, an executive with Production Credit.
They will be replacing Eric Slipp and Newton Cohen. At Wednesday’s meeting, the board honored Cohen’s service on the board with a plaque and praise for his service.The board will recognize Slipp at a future meeting.
During the monthly financial report, Cohen questioned an uncommitted fund balance for the organization of $167,891 and suggested it was too much.
Jones said some of the extra cash on hand resulted “because RJI (Rowan Jobs Initiative) did such a great job” with marketing ó funds the agency normally would have spent in promoting Rowan County to site consultants and brokers.
Under “marketing and prospect development,” the financial report showed the Economic Development Commission having spent 27 percent of its $38,500 line item for fiscal year 2006-2007.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263 or mwineka@salisburypost.com.

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