By Dominique Cantelme
From the May/June 2015 issue
It seems as if the Carolinas share a lot more than physical proximity. Both look to be on the winning side of the battle for business.
Over the course of a few years, North Carolina borrowed $2.75 billion in federal money in order to extend unemployment insurance benefits. How times have changed. The State may now be seeing the dawn of a new economic development day. Gov. Pat McCrory’s bold approach to reform has been successful and recently helped pay off this debt to the federal government—four years earlier than required. The endeavor will help business owners save $280 million in penalties this year alone and will allow those dollars to be invested in things such as new jobs and new equipment.
North Carolina Secretary of Commerce John E. Skvarla, III, said the early repayment makes North Carolina “more attractive to employers who want to move here and create jobs.”
Although the most recent economic development victories in the Tar Heel State occurred prior to this achievement, the stage is now set for an even bigger influx.
Avid Solutions Inc., a North Carolina-based international engineering firm, is expanding its Winston-Salem headquarters. The company currently occupies a 12,000-square-foot building but plans to move down the road when it constructs a new 20,000-square-foot facility. The $3 million project already has begun with move-in expected by November. Avid Solutions plans to hire 60 additional employees to help fill the space, approximately 48 of which will be engineers and 12 support staff.
“We built this building right at 20 years ago and it served us really well, but now we need extra space for our growth,” said Avid Solutions Inc. president PC Romano.
According to Romano, the company typically hires people right out of college with a basic engineering background. They then get on the job training and help with developing long-term goals with a company that expects up to 20 percent growth each year.
In January, Ecolab Inc. said it would expand its Kay Chemical Company operations in Greensboro, creating 45 new jobs over the next three years. The company plans to invest $10 million to build a 37,000-square-foot office building. The average annual salary for the new workers will be $48,209. By comparison, the average annual salary for Guilford County is $43,581. The Kay business specializes in customized programs to meet food safety and sanitation requirements of quick serve restaurants and retail food markets. It has more than 490 employees in North Carolina.
“Kay Chemical Company has had a great corporate presence in Greensboro for years,” said Governor McCrory. “By building this new facility and adding theses new jobs, the company is strengthening its continued commitment to North Carolina and to the city of Greensboro.”
February saw Butterball, LLC announce an expansion of its operations in Hoke County. The largest producer of turkey products in the U.S. will invest $66.75 million in the city of Raeford, creating 367 new jobs over the next three years. Salaries will vary by job but will include production labor, machine operators, distribution and warehousing. The average annual payroll will exceed $10.6 million.
“We are thrilled to expand our presence in Raeford,” said Kerry Doughty, Butterball president and CEO. We’ve enjoyed our relationship with the community throughout the years, and we are proud to continue building that relationship. Our facility will total more than 200,000-square feet, and we will welcome more than 200 individuals into initial job placements over the next 10 months.”
In March, Global Packaging also announced a North Carolina expansion. The company will invest $9.8 million in Hamlet to expand its Richmond County facility. The project will create 33 jobs over the next three years with an average annual salary of $33,634; the average annual wage of Richmond County is $31,140. The company currently employs 24 people at its Hamlet location. Global Packaging prints high-quality graphics on a variety of film-based materials and converts them into bags or roll stock products, such as personal care, bakery products and frozen food overwrap.
All of the aforementioned projects were made possible in part by a performance-based grant from the One North Carolina Fund of up to $100,000.
It looks like North Carolina is not the only one revving up for success in 2015. South Carolina has had a very good build-up as economic development projects have been on the rise for the past few years. According to SC Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt, in 2014 alone, the Palmetto State recruited more than $5 billion in capital investment and approximately 19,020 jobs, a 23 percent increase over the 15,457 jobs recruited in 2013.
Recent success stories for South Carolina have included more automakers, namely Volvo and Mercedes Benz.
The most recent announcement came from Swedish carmaker Volvo, with plans to build its first U.S. manufacturing plant in Berkeley County. The $500 million project is expected to bring up to 4,000 jobs to the Charleston area by 2030. Thousands more indirect jobs through suppliers and other related industries are anticipated. Volvo chose South Carolina because of its access to ports and infrastructure, a “well-trained labor force” and an “attractive investment environment.” The State also offered more than $200 million in state and local incentives, including around $120 million in state issued economic development bonds, $30 million in grants and $54 million in other incentives. Construction at the Volvo plant will begin later this year and it should begin rolling out cars in 2018 with an expected production of 100,000 cars per year.
Mercedes-Benz also is bringing out the big guns. The German automaker plans to build an 8.6-million-square-foot plant on a 200-acre site adjacent to their existing facility in Charleston. The plant will include a new body shop, a paint shop and an assembly line for the German automaker’s next-generation Sprinter commercial van. The project, expected to begin in 2016, will cost an estimated $500 million and create 1,300 jobs.
“This plant is key to our future growth in the very dynamic North American van market,” Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz vans, said in a statement. He said Charleston was chosen because, “The region has very highly skilled workers, a dense network of reliable suppliers and an outstanding logistics infrastructure that includes good transport connections to the nearby harbor.”
South Carolina provided Mercedes-Benz with job development credits and a $14 million grant for property improvements.
SANTEE COOPER POWERS SOUTH CAROLINA
As South Carolina’s largest producer of electricity, Santee Cooper has set a standard for affordability, reliability and environmental stewardship.
They offer the lowest industrial costs in the state, and are 33 percent below the national average for industrial electric costs. And they offer the kind of incentive packages that have helped attract advanced manufacturers like Wyman-Gordon and Sigmatex in recent months.
Santee Cooper just earned the American Public Power Association’s prestigious Diamond RP3 award for outstanding reliability, and in 2014 their transmission system customers were without power on average just a few minutes all year. You can depend on Santee Cooper for reliable service.
They also understand the importance of maximizing natural resources and are proud of their record in renewable generation, energy efficiency and environmental stewardship.
- Santee Cooper was the first utility in South Carolina to generate Green Power and offer it to their customers, back in 2001. The utility leads the state today in renewable energy generation, providing electricity from landfill gas, biomass, solar and even a little wind. Santee Cooper will continue to use renewable generation that is practical for their customers. In fact, the South Carolina Solar Council named them the 2013 Solar Utility of the Year.
- Santee Cooper has won several awards for recycling as well, and most recently attracted national attention for their innovative program to recycle ash in their ash ponds. Not only is that program good for the environment and their customers, it also has created jobs for their community.
- They’re also helping their customers use less electricity. Santee Cooper’s Reduce The Use initiatives help their customers make homes and businesses more energy efficient, through audits, recommendations and rebates.
The utility has a diverse generating portfolio beyond the renewables, utilizing clean coal generation (all of their units have a comprehensive suite of emission controls), natural gas, hydro and nuclear resources. In fact, they are partners in one of the nation’s two new nuclear construction projects, working with SCE&G Co. to expand V.C. Summer Nuclear Station. Nuclear power is virtually emissions free, and as such is an important tool as they work to meet imminent EPA regulations addressing carbon dioxide emissions. It is reliable and also offers low long-term operating costs.
Incentives for You: In addition to providing electricity, Santee Cooper powers economic development.
They have buildings. They have sites ready for your building. They also have partners who have buildings and sites too.
And Santee Cooper is building more: they’ve loaned money to build two dozen projects across the state since 2012, with more planned for this year. They even have a grant program that can put finishing touches on a site so it meets your specific needs.
Once you get there, Santee Cooper can offer an incentive rate that can save eligible industries up to 30 percent on electric costs your first year, with savings tapering gradually over the next several years. They know it’s expensive to start a project, and want to help guarantee your success. Eligibility and scope of incentives is based on your electric requirement and other factors.
Business-friendly South Carolina: South Carolina is good for business. It has a low cost of living; a good tax base; a ready workforce; an excellent transportation network that includes modern and efficient air, rail, interstate and port facilities; and a supportive educational system at all levels.
Nights and weekends also are pretty good there. It has a climate that invites outdoor pursuits year-round, restaurants that make the nation’s many must-eat lists and abundant options for theater and other leisure entertainment.
Santee Cooper has partnerships across South Carolina—and provides power to the state’s 20 electric cooperatives and most of its electric cities, in addition to their own retail areas. They’ve worked together to help light the way for new businesses that brought billions of dollars of investment, billions of dollars in payroll and tens of thousands of jobs to South Carolina. Let them put their power to work for you.
WINSTON-SALEM: A CITY OF PROGRESS
Winston-Salem is a city of progress. From its origins as an early Moravian settlement nearly 250 years ago and the merger of the towns of Winston and Salem over 100 years ago, the community has grown to be a center for business and technology in North Carolina and the Southeast.
To begin with, there has been a recent resurgence in tobacco, furniture and textiles within the Winston-Salem market. Just last year, R.J. Reynolds announced their plans to up-fit a 70,000-square-foot facility and hire 200 people to produce its e-cig brand, Vuse. In addition, United Furniture announced their plans to add 200 new jobs and invest $5.2 million to expand into a historic textile plant just north of downtown. This expansion will combine the company’s distribution hub and manufacturing operations into a new, larger location. Winston-Salem Business Inc. (WSBI) also was able to recruit Polyvlies, a German non-woven textile manufacturer, to locate their first U.S. manufacturing facility in Winston-Salem. Polyvlies plans on hiring 40 people over the next four years and will supply automobile manufacturers across the eastern United States. It is extremely encouraging to see the revival of these historic industries within the Triad and highlights the resiliency of Winston-Salem’s economy.
While these historic industries are on the rebound, Winston-Salem also has seen exponential growth in the community’s life science and healthcare sectors. Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Forsyth Medical Center, Winston-Salem’s two local hospitals, are the city’s major employers with almost 21,000 employees between them. In addition, the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, a 240-acre research park in downtown Winston-Salem, is one of the fastest growing urban-based research parks in the U.S. and continues to attract a talented workforce of scientists, engineers and other professionals to the area. Over the past several years, there have been some major projects to locate at the Innovation Quarter. Inmar, a data analytics and services company, moved its headquarters with close to 1,000 employees into a 240,000-square-foot, four story former tobacco processing building that they renovated for a cost of $75 million. Wake Forest also recently announced their plans to relocate their School of Medicine’s main campus into the Innovation Quarter. This $100 million project will complete the third phase of the redevelopment of the former R.J. Reynolds buildings and bring hundreds of new employees and students into downtown Winston-Salem every day. In all, the Innovation Quarter encompasses 2.5 million square feet of office, laboratory and classroom space and currently has 3,000 people employed among its various companies and educational institutions. The Innovation Quarter’s vision of becoming a leading hub for innovation in biomedical science and information technology is well within reach with a plethora of existing facilities and sites still available for future businesses to utilize.
In addition to the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, there are a number of other exciting economic initiatives taking place throughout the city of Winston-Salem. WSBI has successfully completed Austin Consulting’s Food and Beverage Manufacturing Certification Program on a 100-acre industrial site next to Caterpillar and Herbalife’s manufacturing facilities. This program is used to differentiate sites that are optimal for food and beverage companies, thereby abbreviating the vetting process and reducing companies’ perceived risk for choosing one location over another. WSBI also is currently in the process of constructing a 60,000-square-foot speculative facility located within one of the city’s premier business parks. This facility, which will be expandable to 90,000 square feet, will help fill a gap in the city and county’s existing Class-A industrial building inventory and help recruit prospective businesses to the area.
While these product development initiatives are extremely important, the most exciting economic development opportunity for Winston-Salem will surround the recent donation of R.J. Reynolds former tobacco manufacturing complex: Whitaker Park. The donation consists of 120 acres and 1.7 million square feet of existing industrial buildings. WSBI plans on marketing the different buildings and sites to advanced manufacturers, distribution/logistic operations, biotech/life science companies and residential developers. Business leaders throughout the community are confident these properties will play a key role in the economic development and transformational growth of Winston-Salem and the greater Triad region. It is projected that anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 new jobs could be created with the redevelopment of this historic manufacturing complex.
Winston-Salem has continued to evolve within a dynamic knowledge based economy. With momentum on its side, Winston-Salem is a place where businesses across all industries can thrive.