Power plant electrifies
city's tax base
Winston-Salem’s 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 existing
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
$1 million grant giving
industrial park a facelift
Reidsville’s 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
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
Cities hit a homer landing
USA Baseball headquarters
The 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 year.
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 Atlanta.
“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
answering CVB's prayers
The 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
“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
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
Aquariums' ad campaign
takes off like a rockett
A 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
“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 everyone wins.”
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
Spate of redevelopment
puts a new face on downtown
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 1960s.
“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
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 H.
UNCC's high-tech dreams
materialize as buildings rise
The 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
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
The institute also has a $10 million donation from the Duke Endowment, which
it’s yet to determine how to use. — Kevin Brafford
New England firm snaps up
former furniture plant
Across 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
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
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 Williams-Tracy
Surge of business
investments eases pain of textile job losses
The 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
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 plant.
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 175.
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
Krispy Kreme expands into
the land down under
Krispy 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 Zealand.
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
ASU looks to consolidate
programs on 'Millenial Campus'
Appalachian 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
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