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Duke picks Rowan County site for economic development program

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — With a bit of help from Duke Energy, Rowan County leaders want to turn overgrown land into a manufacturing facility on Henderson Grove Church Road.

Duke Energy last week announced that a Rowan County site had been selected for its Site Readiness Program. The site measures 140 acres and sits off of Henderson Grove Church Road, according to Duke’s news release. The site is also a short distance away from Interstate 85’s exit at Peach Orchard Road.

Henderson Grove Church Road currently connects South Main Street with Peach Orchard Road.

As part of the program, Duke Energy identifies “high-quality industrial sites” and then collaborates with local officials to develop ways to bring water, sewer, natural gas and electricity to the site, a news release states.

Some of the sites chosen are noted for specific types of development in Duke’s announcement. Rowan County’s site didn’t have a specific use noted in the announcement. When asked, County Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds said the site is best suited for some type of manufacturing facility. Edds ruled out retail as a possibility.

“It’s really a fantastic site, with lots of area that we’ve been interested in,” Edds said. “One of our biggest focuses right now with economic development is getting a whole stable of available sites up and ready. I think we’ve been caught a little flat-footed in the past couple of years because we’ve been completely out of inventory.”

If Rowan County wants to attract new businesses, Edds said Rowan County needs to have available sites.

Rowan Works Economic Development Director Robert Van Geons said Duke Energy’s Site Readiness Program “takes a piece of dirt or a piece of property” and tuns it into a site that’s ready for a businesses to move into.

Van Geons said the program provides planning and design resources that Rowan County couldn’t afford to do on its own for the Henderson Grove Church Road site.

In its news release Duke Energy says it recruited more than $1.2 billion in capital investment and 3,200 new jobs  in 2015 to North Carolina as part of the Site Readiness Program.

“Economic development is a team sport – we work with many groups and companies in different capacities throughout the economic development process,” Duke Energy’s vice president of economic development Stu Heishman said in a news release. “We get the results we do by providing dependable, affordable energy to the industries, businesses and residential customers we serve in the Tarheel State.”

Once complete, the Henderson Grove Church Road site will be one of many I-85 sites identified by Rowan County leaders as being primed for economic development. One, called the “Platinum Site” is located almost to the south of Henderson Grove Church Road — between Peeler and Webb roads. — and measures 380 acres. Other large sites include the massive, 600-acre Carlton site off of Long Ferry Road and more-than-300-acre Southland site, which is located near Old Beatty Ford Road.

Other sites selected as part of Duke’s program are located in: Anson, Guilford, Rockingham, Lenoir, Rutherford, Scotland and Wayne counties.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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