Duke Energy selects Randolph, Chatham sites for industrial development program

April 29, 2013

CHARLOTTE — Duke Energy has chosen a 200-acre former farmland in Randolph County to participate in the utility’s 2013 Site Readiness Program to prepare the farm for potential industrial development.

Located north of Asheboro and west of U.S. 220 Bypass on Heath Road, the farm will undergo a comprehensive assessment for possible industrial recruitment. The land is across the bypass from the former Goodyear plant, north of the Pineview Street exit.

Bonnie Renfro, president of the Randolph County Economic Development Corp., said Duke representatives will likely visit in late May to evaluate the property and submit recommended actions, including a detailed report and conceptual drawings, later this summer.

Duke is also looking at a 1,700-acre mega-site in Chatham County. Strategically located west of Siler City off N.C. 421 and south of Interstate 85, this large parcel of undeveloped land will undergo a comprehensive assessment for possible large-scale industrial recruitment.

“This site has the potential to put Chatham County on a fast track for economic development,” said John Geib, Duke Energy’s economic development director for Chatham County. “It’s an enormous amount of land — about the size of the Charlotte Motor Speedway. That’s the size necessary for a large-scale manufacturing company or automotive project.”

Duke Energy’s Site Readiness Program is designed to help communities served by the utility compete for new companies and jobs.

Geib also noted the Randolph site has tremendous possibilities.

“For the next six months, we’ll assess its strengths for specific target industries,” he added. “We’ve hired McCallum Sweeney, a nationally known consulting firm, to conduct a site study and our land-use planners will assess how feasible it is to build on the site.”

Duke Energy will collaborate with county leaders and local economic development professionals to develop a strategy for providing water, sewer, natural gas and electricity to the site. The parties also will recommend road improvements, easements and rights-of-way that would be required to develop the site, as well as steps necessary to mitigate any potential environmental impacts.

“We are always very happy to do business with successful companies like Duke Energy,” Renfro said. “Our property is a blank slate with a lot of great potential. We are looking for ideas and innovation from the Site Readiness Program to help pull it all together and create new development and new jobs.”

More than 35 counties submitted applications for Duke Energy’s Site Readiness Program in North Carolina and South Carolina. The Randolph County site was one of 10 North Carolina sites chosen by the utility.

After the site’s state of readiness has advanced, Duke Energy’s Business Development Team will actively market the site nationwide to companies looking to expand or relocate their operations.

The recent national recession significantly impacted Randolph County, where 11 percent of the workforce is unemployed.

“Duke Energy is committed to boosting economic development in Randolph County and all the counties it serves,” said Stu Heishman, Duke Energy’s vice president of economic development. “Our site readiness program has assumed additional importance due to the weak economy and increasing competition among states and regions to attract new companies and jobs.”

Ideal candidates for Duke Energy’s site readiness program are 75 acres or larger, served by the utility. A qualified site can be either a site best suited for a single, large industrial facility, data center or a site well-suited for a potential industrial park (multi-tenant site).

Duke Energy’s program has been recognized by Southern Business & Development Magazine as one of the South’s top site readiness programs. Duke Energy’s overall economic development program has also been consistently named by Site Selection Magazine as one of the nation’s “Top 10 Utility Economic Development Programs.”

For more information, visit www.considerthecarolinas.com.

Source: The Courier Tribune