By Mark Wineka
Rowan County’s top economic development official has some parting advice:
Give the county-owned industrial park, Summit Corporate Center, the curb appeal it needs.
“It’s going down because no one’s taking care of it,” Randy Harrell, executive director of the Salisbury-Rowan Economic Development Commission, told his board members Wednesday.
Harrell is leaving his position Aug. 24 to become president and chief executive officer of the Greene County (Tenn.) Partnership. He has been with the Salisbury-Rowan EDC for eight-and-a-half years.
Harrell and Bruce Jones, chairman of the EDC, said the industrial land still available in Summit Corporate Center is priced right.
If the available parcels were cleaned up, opened up and marketed effectively, they would sell, Harrell added.
“You’ve got to spend a little money to make a little money,” he said. “Let’s take it to another level.”
In Summit Corporate Center, Harrell said, Rowan County has something many other counties do not ó fairly priced land, an interstate location and infrastructure (roads, water and sewer) already in place.
Summit Corporate Center sits just south of Salisbury at Julian Road and I-85.
Board member Phil Kirk asked whether it was the EDC’s responsibility to be pushing the county to make aesthetic improvements at Summit Corporate Center. Harrell said it was.
“If the property’s not attractive, no one’s going to look at it,” Kirk agreed. He said there should be a plan for improvements that county leaders could move on aggressively.
Harrell said members of the Rowan Jobs Initiative, which will meet next week, also are concerned about the aesthetics of Summit Corporate Center.
In other discussion Wednesday, Harrell reiterated his concerns that the EDC doesn’t have enough shell buildings and is running out of available buildings in general to show industrial prospects.
Wagoner announced Wednesday that a 32,000-square-foot shell he built in the Southmark Center off U.S. 29 will soon be leased to Home Depot Supply.
Harrell said the county also should be buying additional property as it can.
“You got to get the property to control the future,” Harrell added.
A lot of discussion in the past has centered on growing the Rowan County Airport, but Harrell said industry has to locate here first for the airport to grow. He said the county will not make money by building hangars.
Jones asked what recent contact the EDC has had with Petty Enterprises, which has expressed an interest in moving its NASCAR racing operation to Rowan County.
Harrell said Petty Enterprises has expanded the amount of land it’s looking for from 50 acres up to 500 acres. He has been in contact with with company in recent weeks, but Harrell cautioned that Petty Enterprises also is looking at other counties in the region.
“This isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight,” Harrell said of a final decision and move for the Pettys.
The EDC will hold a reception for Harrell from 4-6 p.m. Aug. 16 at the Salisbury Country Club.
In a monthly activity report, the EDC said it has 16 “active” projects or inquiries.
The 10 active prospects include auto parts, home building materials, construction materials, hose, energy, motorsports, textile and research industries.
The EDC board approved a $440,947 budget for 2007-2008. It includes $298,234 for administrative expenses; $90,213 for office, utilities and automobile costs; and $52,500 for marketing and prospect development.
The board has set aside $38,000 for expenses related to finding a new executive director.
The expenditure for marketing and prospect development has increased by $14,500, most of which is an increase from $8,000 to $22,000 for costs associated with getting state certification for another industrial site.
Only Summit Corporate Center is state certified at present. Harrell said the Platinum Construction site south of Salisbury between U.S. 29 and I-85 might be the next good property for state certification once the I-85 sewer line is in place.
Toyota Racing Development purchased the 89-acre Cline site off Peach Orchard Road, which also was state certified.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or mwineka @salisburypost.com.
By Mark Wineka