11/18/07 — 12 sites chosen to attract industries

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12 sites chosen to attract industries

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on November 18, 2007 2:11 AM

A recently completed industrial site study commissioned by the Wayne County Development Alliance has identified 12 potential locations scattered throughout the county -- some in the north, some in the south, some in the west and some around the Goldsboro corridor.

Now, explained alliance president Joanna Thompson, the goal is to gain control of at least some of them -- and then to market them to potential new businesses and industries.

"Some of these sites have one or two landowners. I think one of them had eight," Ms. Thompson said. "They've identified the landowners but we have not contacted any of them."

Because of that, she would not identify any of the specific locations.

"Now what we'll do as an alliance is methodically go through all these sites and look at what kind of resources we have and how to gain control of them," she said.

She could not put a timeline on how long that process might take, but noted that increasing the county's number of potential industrial sites is an important piece of the economic development puzzle.

"Not all these sites are going to be the next ParkEast," she said. "But we need to build our portfolio. We need to have as many listed on the ground and on the Web site as possible so that when clients look at Wayne County, we have a diverse number of sites."

ParkEast, located along U.S. 70 east of Goldsboro, is currently the county's largest industrial park with 500 total acres. Operating there are Pate Dawson Co., Mission Foods, Park Designs, Strickland Insurance Group, Nordic Group and AAR Manufacturing.

The sites identified in this latest study by Greenfield Associates range in size from 50 to 400 acres. And while some of them could be developed into industrial parks, others could simply serve as single industrial lots.

They were all were selected -- and ranked -- based on their potential for development and existing infrastructure.

The most promising, Ms. Thompson explained, are those near the U.S. 117/I-795 and U.S. 70 corridors.

"Those are your best options because they're going to be the most cost effective," she said.

Other factors taken into account were the lack of significant availability of natural gas and rail, as well as the county's electric capacity, which is improving because of the new peaking plant at Progress Energy and the work being done by Pikeville on its system.

Also considered was water and sewer, which, she explained, presented a surprising number of challenges.

"Their professional opinion was that we've got too many (water) systems. They said that we've got water everywhere, but no connectivity," she explained. "They also said that we have good excess capacity of sewer in Goldsboro and Mount Olive, but that it's not available in the sanitary districts."

But the biggest obstacle, she continued, are the 2005 Federal Emergency Manage-ment Agency flood plain maps, which increased Wayne County's 100-year flood plains by 10 percent -- 5,000 acres (seven square miles).

And while county Planning Director Connie Price explained the increase was largely due to more areas being studied rather than an increase in water levels, it still will have an adverse affect over where new businesses and industries can locate.

"The biggest thing (Greenfield) looked at were the flood plain maps. That is the most significant impact that will limit developable land," Ms. Thompson said.

Overall, though, she's pleased and encouraged by the study's results.

"Now we know the basic infrastructure and the basic locations. (Greenfield) looked at these from the client's perspective and these sites have the best potential," she said. "Now I think the board is really geared up to begin the process of deciding which sites we want to go after and research more."