08/11/07 — A corporate move: Butterball’s headquarters choice underscores infrastructure needs

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A corporate move: Butterball’s headquarters choice underscores infrastructure needs

Wayne County is poised for future growth — but it is not quite there yet.

So, when officials at now locally owned Butterball Turkey needed to decide what to do about creating a centralized administrative office complex, the conclusion was that the new $12 million facility would need to go to Garner.

Officials with company said they would have liked to have stayed in Mount Olive, but that the infrastructure simply wasn’t in place to attract or to serve the kind of administrative employees a $1.4 billion company needs.

And while the analysis might sting a little, the message behind the statement comes from a family and a company — Goldsboro Milling — that has done much to support this community and has proven its loyalty many times over. So, if there had been a way to stay here, they would have found it.

In short, it’s just that we aren’t ready yet to attract and keep the big boys.

Some of it involves an airport. A company of this size needs an airport that offers a wide variety of flights and that services a larger area. Raleigh-Durham has that.

The other factor is that there are not enough neighborhoods and other infrastructure in place to attract corporate personnel to the area — at least not with the accessibility to transportation they need. Companies have to think about that a lot these days as they struggle to attract and to keep the best employees.

So what can we learn from this news?

Easy, Wayne County has potential — and with a little bit of tweaking and a few well-placed and well-funded priorities — we can can be competitive in the economic development market.

That statement is a no-brainer to county development officials who understand that marketing a community requires more than just an available building and work force.

To be competitive, Wayne County needs better schools, better roads, more recreation opportunities and plenty more quality housing and amenities like parks and shopping malls.

But as Butterball officials said, there has been progress made, with more to come.

Maybe, soon, Wayne County will be able to attract the kind of investment that brings many more millions to its development areas and companies’ corporate headquarters to those addresses as well.

This announcement is not so much bad news, but an opportunity to start a discussion about where to head next. With a little more planning, the next announcement could mean a large corporate client for Wayne County — and jobs with a bright future for its residents.

Published in Editorials on August 11, 2007 11:35 PM