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Charlotte Pipe: A Utah Success Story

When Charlotte Pipe and Foundry decided to expand, it needed land with easy access to rail and highway transportation. The company found that and more at the largest new rail-served industrial park west of the Mississippi: Port 15 Utah in Cedar City, UT.

Charlotte Pipe found “a business-friendly environment,” says Brad Muller, vice president of marketing, “and a very easy place to do business.”

The fast track process Port 15 implemented took only seven months from permits to finished 148,000-square-foot facility on 50 acres that began producing pipe in March of this year.

The 107-year-old family-owned company, a market leader based in Charlotte, NC, wanted to sell plastic pipe and fittings to West Coast plumbing distributors. But because pipe is mostly air, it’s too expensive to ship across the country, so Charlotte Pipe needed a manufacturing site within a day-and-a-half-drive of southern California and other population centers on the coast. The company also needed rail service to deliver its primary raw material—PVC resin—a reliable workforce, and room to expand.

Charlotte Pipe looked for land around Las Vegas and in Arizona, but found none with rail service, an essential component. It soon learned Utah is the meeting point of three major rail lines, with service to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.

Port 15 Utah was created by a group of public and private investors, including:

• Utah School Land Trust
• State of Utah
• Quantum Development Group
• Iron County School District
• Cedar City/Iron County Office of Economic Development
• Rocky Mountain Power

“Port 15 is a unique commercial and industrial center”, says Mike Hillis, a managing partner at Commerce CRG, a regional commercial real estate firm marketing the property. Utah’s three interstate highways—two east-west routes, I-70 and I-80, and a north-south route, I-15, which runs through the middle of Cedar City—have made the state a central distribution point along the Canada/Mexico trade corridor. Cedar City Regional Airport, with the second longest runway in Utah, is a key component of regional transportation.

The Iron County region and Cedar City are both undergoing population growth, while maintaining a high quality of life and reasonable cost of living. Southern Utah University and Southwest Applied Technology College offer opportunities for higher education in the area. The quality of life is enhanced by such amenities as several nearby national parks, the Utah Shakespearean Festival and the annual Utah Summer Games.

The Quantum Development Group created a partnership with the Utah School Land Trust to assemble 800 acres the state owned, which was already served by a Union Pacific rail line connecting Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. Not having to purchase land allowed Quantum to develop roads and install fiber optic cable and other infrastructure. Rocky Mountain Power built a new substation to meet power needs, which are significant for Charlotte Pipe.

The Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), provided an Economic Development Tax Increment incentive, and the local government and the school district created an Economic Development Authority (EDA), which offered Charlotte Pipe a package of up to $7 million in tax rebates over 10 years.

“All Utah incentives are combined with local participation and encourage unmatched cooperation among governmental units in the state, which benefits the company who is opening a new facility, saving time and money,” says GOED executive director, Jason Perry.

A part of the EDA requires 20% of the taxes collected to be invested in a Workforce Housing Fund to provide low-interest loans to essential employees, such as firefighters, police officers and teachers. Additionally, a portion of EDA revenue will pay for fast-track development, infrastructure improvements and recruiting companies to the area.

“It’s a model of cooperation” between the public and private sectors, says Bryan Dangerfield, director of the Cedar City/Iron County Office of Economic Development. Because all infrastructure was in place, everyone could focus on getting Charlotte Pipe’s plant approved, built and producing pipe in short order.

“The rail access makes it a real gem,” Dangerfield adds. Port 15 Utah also benefits taxpayers because no incentives are paid to the developer until Charlotte Pipe and other new companies are actually operating and paying taxes.

“Charlotte Pipe is a perfect fit for what we have out at Port 15,” says Cedar City Mayor Gerald R. Sherratt. “We offer the infrastructure and incentives that allow the company to build its business, and Charlotte Pipe brings high-quality jobs to our community. They’re a real class act.”

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