Business Reports for August 2002
plant electrifies city's tax base
tax base got its biggest boost in 16 years with the
announcement that Boston-based CME North American Merchant
Energy LLC will build a $400 million natural gas-fired,
electricity generating power station. The facility, which
should be generating 800 megawatts of electricity as early as
2005, will be constructed on industrial property adjacent to
the former Stroh’s Brewery on the southern edge of the city.
“Our community’s revitalization will occur through growth
during these financially difficult times,” says Bob Leak
Jr., president of Winston-Salem Business Inc, the city’s
economic development arm. “The potential tax benefit from
CME to Winston-Salem and Forsyth County will be significant,
which will help our community tremendously.”
Environmental studies on the site already are under way, and
pending completion of the permitting process, construction on
the facility is scheduled to begin toward the end of 2003.
Construction is expected to take 18 to 24 months and will
employ approximately 350 at the site, generating an estimated
$20 million in new wages and salaries for the county.
“Our goal is to provide a safe, reliable and environmentally
responsible energy solution that benefits Winston-Salem and
Forsyth County and provides valuable economic impact for the
entire region,” says William J. Martin, president of CME
North American Merchant Energy. “As the need for a stable
supply of electricity increases, additional power generation
becomes necessary to prevent California-like energy crises.”
Martin says CME chose Winston-Salem based on a number of
factors, including proximity to natural gas and electricity
transmission lines, ample water and sewer services, a prime
industrial location and power marketing opportunities. The
project is the largest single tax-base investment in the city
since R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Cos. completed its $1 billion
Tobaccoville plant in 1986.
“The impact of this project can only be positive for
Winston-Salem and the surrounding communities,” Leak says.
“Increasing the supply of locally produced, reliable and
low-cost energy can also be used as a tool for attracting new
businesses to Forsyth County, as well as a tool for retaining
CME estimates it will purchase about $4 million annually from
local service and material suppliers. Once the station is
operational, CME expects to employ 25 workers who will earn an
average salary of $60,000. — Kevin Brafford
million grant giving industrial park a facelift
industrial park will get a much-needed facelift as the result
of a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce
through the Economic Development Administration.
The money has been earmarked mainly for renovations to the
infrastructure within the park. The improvements, which
already are under way, include extending water mains, widening
the main en-tranceway of Sands Road and extending sewer and
storm drainage lines.
As part of the qualification for the grant, Reidsville is
expected to match the grant with its own appropriation of $1
million for the project.
The grant was considered instrumental to helping the city
maintain its economic development during difficult economic
times. Reidsville officials say the improvements to the
industrial park follow their longstanding motto, “focused on
a better tomorrow. — Rachel Suls
hit a homer landing USA Baseball headquarters
cities of Durham and Cary have teamed to land USA Baseball,
the national governing body of the amateur sport, which will
relocate its headquarters to the Triangle sometime early next
Currently based in Tucson, Ariz., USA Baseball selects and
trains the USA Olympic Team, USA Baseball National Team
(collegiate), the USA Baseball Junior National Team
(18-under), and the USA Baseball Youth National Team
(16-under), all of which participate in various international
competitions each year.
Under the agreement, the organization will have executive and
administrative offices and national team competition and
training center facilities located in both cities. In Durham,
USA Baseball will be based at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park
and will use that 10,000-seat facility for exhibition games.
In Cary, the organization will be located at a new multi-field
complex that will be built later this year. Included in the
approximate $8 million complex will be four fields that USA
Baseball will use for two to three months a year. The facility
will be available for public use the remainder of the time.
Earlier this year, USA Baseball was dealing primarily with
Durham as a potential relocation site. But after the city
balked at building the organization a new training complex,
the Triangle Sports Commission approached Cary about sharing
headquarters responsibilities with Durham.
“Having the Olympic governing body of America’s
pastime in our hometown is a tremendous honor,” says Hill
Carrow, who spearheaded the Triangle Sports Commission’s
effort to land the organization. The Triangle was one of five
finalists for USA Baseball. The others were Harford County,
Md.; Osceola County, Fla.; Palm Beach County, Fla.; and
“The decision process was made very difficult by the
number of quality communities that reached out to us,” says
Paul Seiler, the executive director and CEO of USA Baseball.
“But after a long look at all of our options, we are
extremely excited about the opportunities in North
Carolina.” — Kevin Brafford
convention answering CVB's prayers
Gate City has landed the Southern Baptist Convention in 2006,
exactly 90 years since its last North Carolina appearance in
Charlotte in 1916.
The SBC, which has more than 15.9 million members from an
estimated 41,000 churches, will bring between 10,000 and
15,000 visitors to Greensboro when the convention is held June
11-14, 2006. The economic impact on the area is expected to
top out at more than $28.5 million.
The SBC says its choice to come to Greensboro was based
largely on an impressive presentation put forth by the
Greensboro Area Convention & Visitors Bureau and the
Greensboro Coliseum Complex, which will serve as the
convention’s host site, and local hotels.
Henri Fourrier, the president and CEO of the Greensboro Area
CVB, says the SBC’s decision should have a positive impact
on the city’s future as a convention site.
“It always lends credibility to your destination to have
successfully hosted a convention of this magnitude,” he
says. “We anticipate securing additional religious meetings
for Greensboro simply because of our affiliation with the
In addition to hosting the convention, Greensboro also will be
the site of a program called the Crossover Evangelistic
Effort, which is the Southern Baptist outreach program.
The program is held in connection with the convention each
year in the host city with the goal of reaching out to area
residents. — Rachel Suls
ad campaign takes off like a rockett
joint venture between the North Carolina Outdoor Advertising
Association (NCOAA) and a Raleigh-based public relations
agency has created an ad campaign that should positively
impact the state’s tourism coffers — and at a cost that
can’t be beat.
New billboards surfaced in June on a couple of heavily
traveled roads in the eastern part of the state advertising
the sea life at the North Carolina Aquariums. The campaign is
the result of a pro bono project valued at more than $200,000
between the NCOAA and Rockett Burkhead & Winslow.
The NCOAA did its part by donating 15 to 20 billboard spaces
worth more than $125,000. In response, Rockett Burkhead &
Winslow created three separate designs for the billboards,
which come in the wake of the reopening of the Aquarium at
Fort Fisher. That expansion and renovation of Fort Fisher
followed a similar project at the Aquarium on Roanoke Island.
The third N.C. Aquarium, located at Pine Knoll Shores, is now
in line for expansion.
“We’ve been working with the aquariums on a pro bono basis
for almost two years,” says Paul Harrington, the managing
creative director for Rockett Burkhead & Winslow. “Due
to the state’s budget crunch, spending’s on hold. So we
got a bit creative, did some fun billboards, and partnered
with our friends at the N.C. Outdoor Advertising Association,
who generously donated media space.
“Together, we were able to pull off a good campaign that
will promote the aquariums and help the state with needed
tourist dollars. It’s one of those rare instances where
The billboards are located on Highway 64 in Plymouth and
Highway 158 in Currituck County, as well as other highways
through the coastal areas. Other billboards are expected to go
up soon along major highways throughout the state.
“The travel and tourism industry is critical to the economic
well-being of our state,” says Tony Adams, executive
director of the NCOAA. “Through this wonderful partnership
we hope to bring thousands of visitors to our three
For more information on the North Carolina Aquariums and the
North Carolina Aquarium Society, visit www.ncaquariums.com,
or call 1-800-832-FISH. — Kevin Brafford
redevelopment puts a new face on downtown
Hickory is a hub of activity these days with about $12 million
being pumped into construction and renovation projects in the
business district by private developers. Empty storefronts are
being converted for new businesses as the area looks to
re-establish itself as a place for living, dining and
As in many cities, Hickory’s downtown area has struggled to
define itself after malls began drawing away shoppers in the
“What has happened to downtown is that the merchants who
established businesses there after World War II all retired,
and what we see happening now is a whole new generation of
business people moving into downtown,” says Hickory Economic
Development Coordinator J.R. Steigerwald.
Steigerwald describes the progress as a partnership between
the city and property owners. Last month the downtown area
hired its first full-time director to oversee revitalization
efforts and promote the area, courtesy of the city. That
position should help the city when it applies this fall to be
part of the state Main Street Program.
The city paved the way for much of what is going on today in
1997 when it made a move to clean up the perimeter of downtown
by purchasing and demolishing a run-down motel and selling the
lot. A couple of major projects are now under way in that area
of town. The old Waldensian Bakery has been torn down to make
way for a 20,000-square-foot office and retail building. Prism
also is planning 17 townhomes on nearby property that once
housed an auto parts store. In all, Prism’s projects will
increase the city’s tax base by $5 million, according to
The center city area known as Union Square also is receiving a
facelift as developer Tim Cline renovates space formerly
occupied by a large retail store into six upstairs apartments
and several small shops downstairs. Another storefront is
being converted into a children’s furniture store and a
Greek restaurant has a contract on another. A
29,000-square-foot building, which once housed a local
newspaper, is being renovated for office space. — Charlene
high-tech dreams materialize as buildings rise
city’s dreams of becoming a national leader in technology
research are finally emerging from the dirt on the University
of North Carolina at Charlotte campus as construction has
begun on a new science and tech building.
Work on two additional new buildings will get under way later
this year with all three scheduled for completion by 2004. The
new construction will more than quadruple the school’s lab
space for science and tech research, and represents the latest
steps in the university’s aggressive attempts to become a
powerhouse research institution. “We want to play with the
big boys,” Steve Mosier, the university’s associate vice
chancellor for research, told the Charlotte Observer.
To reach that goal, UNC Charlotte is building its Institute
for Technology Innovation. The institute commands two separate
parcels on campus and already includes the C.C. Cameron
Applied Research Center and the Burson Building. The three new
buildings will be part of that effort and will allow the tech
faculty, now spread throughout the campus, to consolidate in
one central area.
Under the university’s long-range plan, 13 more buildings
eventually will be constructed along N.C. 29 within the
institute’s boundaries on the northwest corner of campus.
The three new buildings that will open in 2004 are being
financed through part of the university’s share of the $3.1
billion bonds package that was spearheaded by NCCBI and
approved by the state’s voters in 2000.
The institute also has a $10 million donation from the Duke
Endowment, which it’s yet to determine how to use. — Kevin
England firm snaps up former furniture plant
the Piedmont’s manufacturing landscape, production
facilities that have been closed often sit abandoned for
months or years. But in Statesville, a New England
cabinetmaker has gobbled up a manufacturing plant only a month
after it closed, announcing plans to employ as many as 560
people there in the next five years.
LesCare Kitchens Inc., a division of Newman Consolidated
Industries, will buy the former Falcon/Thonet furniture-making
plant in west Statesville and convert it to a cabinetmaking
plant. Falcon/Thonet employed 250 people in Statesville until
it consolidated operations at other sites and moved out in
February. The plant was on the market only a month.
“The timing was very unusual. Most of the time it takes
months for a project like this to come together,” says Jeff
McKay, director of economic development for the Greater
Statesville Development Corp., who wishes all industrial
buildings found new tenants to quickly. “In some sense it
was a stroke of luck.”
LesCare Kitchens is one of the largest private cabinetmakers
in the nation. It expects to employ 150 people in Statesville
when it starts production in the fourth quarter. Investment in
the plant is $6 million.
The plant will use high-tech engineering practices to produce
wood cabinets, and McKay says Mitchell Community College will
offer assistance in training workers.
LesCare Kitchens does not currently sell its product through
Lowe’s Home Improvement stores, but Lowe’s satellite
corporate headquarters relocating to nearby Mooresville may
have helped draw LesCare to the region, McKay says. — Laura
business investments eases pain of textile job losses
bad news is that Gaston County continues to bleed
manufacturing jobs. The good news is that it also continues to
be a leader in the state in announcements of new business
investments during 2001.
The county racked up more than $644 million worth of announced
investments in 2001, putting it third in the state. Only
Mecklenburg and Person counties could brag of more, according
to recently released N.C. Department of Commerce figures.
The biggest feather in Gaston’s cap is Atlanta-based Mirant
Corp.’s $500 million merchant power plant to be built in
Gastonia. The company announced the project in August 2001 but
put plans on hold after the collapse of Enron, which made
accessing capital markets an even greater challenge for power
companies. While Gaston’s project was put on hold, a number
of other planned Mirant projects were cancelled. The company
is still pursuing regulatory permitting for the 1,200-megawatt
Donnie Hicks, director of the Gaston County Economic
Development Commission, says the county and city of Gastonia
stand to benefit greatly from the Mirant plant by selling it
huge amounts of water, and collecting significant franchise
taxes from the natural gas the plant will buy. On a peak day,
the plant will burn more gas that Public Service of North
Carolina’s largest customer burns in a month, says Hicks.
Other economic development gains include the opening of a $33
million plant in Stanley by DSM Desotech, a maker of
solvent-free fiber-optic cable coverings. The plan employs 45.
Also, chemical giant Clariant Corp. is completing a $50
million expansion to its Mount Holly plant. Cross Automation,
which sells factory automation equipment, spent $5 million to
expand its facility at the Oaks Commerce Center in Gastonia.
And Buckeye Technologies Inc. opened a $100 million plant in
Mount Holly for making absorbent materials put to use in such
products as diapers and medical supplies. The company employs
For all of the significant monetary investments Gaston
attracted, the county still faces an uphill battle to replace
the more than 4,700 manufacturing jobs lost in the last two
years, half of them in textiles.
The county is looking at other industries to recruit that
would be attracted to its amenities and compatible with the
skills of its workforce. Those might be office development and
back office operations, such as call centers. — Laura
Kreme expands into the land down under
Kreme Doughnuts Inc. soon will be selling its signature sweets
overseas. The company announced plans this summer to take its
tasty product outside North America, awarding development
rights for Australia and New Zealand.
Krispy Kreme, in its annual report filed with the Securities
and Exchange Commission in late May, outlined plans to explore
international growth with the initial focus on five countries:
Japan, South Korea, Australia, Spain and the United Kingdom.
Company officials then said Krispy Kreme would sign at least
two franchise agreements in the next year.
But it didn’t take anywhere near that long for the doughnut
maker to announce its first choice. “This is an extremely
exciting time for Krispy Kreme as we begin our expansion
overseas,” says Scott Livengood, Krispy Kreme’s chairman,
president and CEO. “We look forward to expanding the Krispy
Kreme experience to new customers throughout Australia and New
Krispy Kreme will partner with Borderless Australia Pty Ltd.
Krispy Kreme Australia will develop 30 stores over the next
five years throughout Australia and New Zealand.
The company, which now has stores in 34 states, made its first
venture out of the United States last December with the
opening of a new store in Toronto that was so successful that
it set a franchise sales record for its first week.
“We have spent the past year investigating international
opportunities,” Livengood says. “From those efforts, we
identified a number of primary target markets which we believe
have success characteristics similar to our newer markets in
North America. We expect to announce additional international
agreements this year.”
The company, which now has 226 stores, also has announced
plans to award a Krispy Kreme franchise in Atlanta to home run
king Hank Aaron. Under terms of the agreement, Aaron’s
company, 755 Doughnut Corp., will operate a new store in the
West End community. — Jim Buice
looks to consolidate programs on 'Millenial Campus'
State University’s education and research programs and its
burgeoning regional economic development initiatives are
expected to get a boost from a planned 2.3-acre “millennial
campus.” Chancellor Francis T. Borkowkski says the project
“will bring various educational and economic development
initiatives together under one umbrella.”
Currently, that part of the ASU campus, which is located
approximately a mile from Appalachian’s main campus,
contains the Division of Continuing Education, the Appalachian
Regional Development Institute and the Appalachian Cultural
museum. Plans for the millennial campus include it serving as
a base for coordinating resources and needs of business,
government and organizations that work with the university
community. It is also slated to help with the increased
involvement of the 10 community college members of the
Appalachian Learning Alliance. Much of the campus will focus
on the university’s economic development and research
activities. No new construction is needed.
The administrative and program coordinator for the project is
Dr. Richard B. Parrott, currently the director of
Appalachian’s Continuing Education Division. The millennial
campus has been approved by the ASU Board of Trustees and is
subject to approval by the UNC Board of Governors.
— Rachel Suls
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