EDC director: Rowan needs more buildings to show prospects

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 3, 2009

By Mark Wineka

Salisbury Post

Randy Harrell, executive director of the Salisbury-Rowan Economic Development Commission, is attending the 19th Annual Performance Racing Industry Trade Show in Orlando this week in hopes of making Rowan County and the region more visible to some 42,000 racing business people from 40 different countries..

It’s the third show Harrell has attended. He works during assigned times on the exhibit floor as part of a team from the Charlotte Regional Partnership. He also has appointments set up with specific prospects.

Billed as the world’s largest racing trade show, the event features the latest in motorsports technology from 1,400 companies in a million-square-foot exhibit hall.

The show ends Saturday.

Harrell chairs the Economic Development Advisory Committee of the Charlotte Regional Partnership.

Harrell and Project Manager Stuart Hair recently had their annual meeting with N.C. Department of Commerce officials in Raleigh to provide an overview of available buildings and sites in Rowan, review the EDC’s Web site and discuss some of the recent economic development successes.

Later, Harrell and Hair took 18 marketing representatives from the Department of Commerce to lunch.

Harrell told the EDC board Wednesday that prospect activity and interest in Rowan County has been good — as good as any other county in the state. If one problem exists, he said, it’s the lack of “available product.”

The number of available buildings to show prospects has been dwindling, he noted.

The EDC board later met in closed session to discuss a possible new industry. Harrell said only that he had “exciting news to share.”

In an activity status report Harrell shared earlier with the board, nine projects were listed as “active” and involved industries related to such things as metalworking, heavy equipment, home building materials, construction materials and consumer products.

The sources for these prospects have included the Charlotte Regional Partnership, the N.C. Department of Commerce and direct calls. Building sizes sought range from 15,000 to 100,000 square feet and possible jobs that could be created by individual projects range from 5 to 100.

All projects are given code names, as are simple inquiries, of which six are considered active.

In his director’s report for November-December, Harrell listed some of his other recent activities:

* He met with a developer looking at retail sites in the Jake Alexander Boulevard area.

* He met with Salisbury City Manager David Treme and Rowan County Manager Bill Cowan several times to discuss ongoing projects and other economic development activity. He also met newly elected Rowan County commissioners Tina Hall and Jon Barber.

Hall becomes the new liaison to the EDC from the Board of County Commissioners.

* He met auto dealer Gerry Wood, who sought information on possible city and county expansion grants.

* He met with representatives of Concord Telephone Co. to discuss utility easements for a proposed project.

* He met with Skip Wood and Mike Miller to discuss matters related to the Rowan Jobs Initiative.

* He met with Charles Newsome of Johnson Concrete about a potential lead for a company interested in relocating to Rowan.

* He met with Rubbermaid representatives at Rowan County Airport to discuss possible development of an aircraft hangar for the company, which also is considering other area airports.

* He met with a prospect interested in land close to Interstate 85.

The EDC plans to hold its annual retreat Jan. 10 at Catawba College.

The board uses the retreat as a strategy planning session. Topics will include incentives, growth management and biotechnology.

The board’s annual economic summit is being planned for March 21 or March 29.

Phil Kirk, vice president for external relations at Catawba College, joined the EDC as a new board member Wednesday.

Harrell thanked former Rowan County Commissioner Steve Blount for his long partnership with the EDC as a liaison from the county. Harrell said Blount had been a strong advocate for economic development and a friend.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or mwineka@salisburypost.com.