Feature Story: Shovel-Ready Sites – Fired Up, Ready To Go

By Jenny Vickers
From the May/June 2014 issue

One of the fastest growing trends in the site selection business is the demand for certified industrial sites. Companies looking to build new facilities want sites that are ready to go and relatively risk free.

Across the U.S., states have launched site certification programs with the goal of helping communities prepare available sites for investment and expansion. The certification process involves developers—working closely with their local officials, utility partners and consultants—to become better prepared to market their sites with specific site-related information and community data.

While definitions vary from state to state, a certified site is considered one that has been thoroughly analyzed and documented by a third party engineering firm to determine acreage, archaeological, availability, boundary, cultural, endangered species, environmental, geotechnical, land use, ownership, topography, transportation, utility and wetland issues.

Certified sites can be a big incentive for companies, especially those looking to move quickly on getting a new facility up and running. Certified sites provide potential corporate decision-makers with less worry about surprises emerging that could delay a project’s speedy completion. That time-savings is a valuable commodity.

Here is a roundup of some of the leading certification programs which have become the key for states and local municipalities to get their industrial sites ready in order to lure in new businesses and large-scale projects.


Fairhope Airport
A $2.5-million aviation technical school is nearing completion at the Fairhope Airport Industrial Park, designated at an Alabama AdvantageSite.

It’s not just southern hospitality and charm that are driving economic growth in Alabama. Coupled with one of the lowest tax burdens in the U.S., the state has in place business-friendly, innovative policies and programs that are helping to drive growth in job-rich sectors such as automotive and aerospace and propel it as one of the top economies in the U.S. Southeast.

Alabama’s AdvantageSite program has had a tremendous success record in matching new industrial projects with infrastructure-rich sites in the state. With this designation, communities can receive more looks from companies as sites become qualified as shovel-ready.

The voluntary industrial site preparedness program is coordinated by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA) and is a collaboration between the private sector and state and local governments aimed at increasing the marketability of locations in Alabama.

Since its inception in 2008, the program has recognized 47 active AdvantageSite locations in the state after meeting guidelines such as utility and environmental standards, size, zoning and accessibility. Overall, 17 projects have located on sites with AdvantageSite designations, representing the creation of more than 3,400 jobs and $718.7 million in capital investments.

The latest designation happened in April, when the Fairhope Airport Industrial Park in Baldwin County received the AdvantageSite certification. The 110–acre industrial park has 75 contiguous developable acres and is located next to a municipal airport with a 6,604-foot runway.

The application process was managed locally by the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance along with support from local entities.

Lee Lawson, president and CEO of the alliance, said in a news release that the newest AdvantageSite further illustrates how strong the Fairhope industrial park location is for aerospace companies.

“The near completion of the Aerospace Training Center and the collaborative partnerships among multiple education entities prove to companies that locate at the Fairhope Airport Industrial Park that they will not only have a great site, but also a very qualified and skilled workforce,” said Lawson.

The $2.5-million aviation technical school, under construction near the airport’s entrance on county road 32, is a partnership between Faulkner State Community College, Enterprise State, the Fairhope Airport Authority and the Baldwin County Board of Education. The 15,000-square-foot-facility is scheduled to open in the fall.

This is the fifth Baldwin County site to earn this designation. Baldwin County’s first AdvantageSite—the 56-acre Baldwin EMC Site on Alabama 59 in Bay Minette—was designated in 2011. The 160-acre Foley Beach Express Industrial Park followed in 2012. And, in 2013, the 3,009-acre South Alabama Mega Site in Bay Minette as well as the 50-acre Loxley North Property on Baldwin County 49 earned AdvantageSite designations.

In January, Chilton County Business Park received its first AdvantageSite designation. The 64.5–acre site is located in the unincorporated part of Chilton County, south of Clanton.

AdvantageSite AL
The Black Forest Industrial Park, a 52-acre AdvantageSite in Ozark, AL, features a 29,580-square-foot building that is for sale or lease and can be adapted to clients’ specifications.

Fred Crawford with the Chilton County Industrial Development Board (IDB) said Chilton County is honored to have its first AdvantageSite, and said the site designation is a result of the teamwork between Central Alabama Electric Cooperative, the Chilton County IDB and Sain Associates.

“We hope that we will follow this one with another site, so all economic developers will know that Chilton County is moving forward,” Crawford said.

The Black Forest Industrial Park in Dale County also received AdvantageSite designation in January. The 52–acre industrial park is located within the city limits of Ozark. The park also has a 29,580-square foot spec building that is for sale or lease and can be finished to the clients’ specifications.

“The AdvantageSite designation that we have received for the Black Forest Industrial Park is a significant event,” said Ozark Mayor Billy Blackwell. “The AdvantageSite program has a tremendous success record in locating new industrial projects in Alabama.”

For more information about AdvantageSite requirements and the application process, visit www.edpa.org/bsc/advantagesites.asp.

Georgia GRAD map
Georgia’s GRAD program has certified 33 sites in 30 communities, drawing eight major projects to date, creating more than 3,000 jobs and bringing $2 billion in investments to the state. (Photo: georgia.org.)


The Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development (GRAD) program, which offers advanced due diligence for industrial development, is helping to develop market-ready sites across the Peach State. The program has helped 33 sites in 30 communities become GRAD certified, with 8 projects locating on GRAD sites to date. Together, these eight project locations have created more than 3,000 jobs and nearly $2 billion of investment in the state.

“Our goal at GDEcD is to help Georgia remain a leader in the global marketplace,” said Tom Croteau, deputy commissioner of global commerce at the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD). “The GRAD program plays an integral role in this goal. With leading brands such as Starbucks and Baxter International, the GRAD program has been successful in attracting global companies—many of which continue to expand in our state.”

Two of the most recent projects to locate on GRAD certified sites are Inalfa Roof Systems in Cherokee County and Shrivallabh Pittie (SV Pittie) Group in Screven County.

In February, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced that Inalfa Roof Systems, a leading global provider of vehicle roof systems, will expand its recently completed 165,000-square-foot regional headquarters in southwest Cherokee County by an additional 45,000 square feet. The company has invested an additional $6 million and created 100 new jobs in addition to the 300 already announced in June 2013.

Inalfa Roof Systems, a leading global supplier of vehicle roof systems, is adding 45,000 square feet to its regional headquarters in southwest Cherokee County. (Photo: flickr.com/photos/gdecd)
Inalfa Roof Systems, a leading global supplier of vehicle roof systems, is adding 45,000 square feet to its regional headquarters in southwest Cherokee County. (Photo: flickr.com/photos/gdecd)

“With this significant expansion, it’s clear that Cherokee County is an ideal location for Inalfa Roof Systems,” said Deal in a press release. “In its relatively short time in Georgia, Inalfa Roof Systems has proven to be a true team player for economic development in the region. This expansion demonstrates the company’s confidence in our No. 1 business climate.”

The southwest Cherokee facility is strategically located off I-75 at Cherokee 75 Corporate Park, a 100-acre GRAD certified site that is in close proximity to automotive manufacturers located throughout the Southeast.

The GRAD designation indicates that the Cherokee 75 Corporate Park is market-ready. The designation also includes several tools to market the site, including:

  • Program benefits on the Georgia Department of Economic Development website.
  • Highlighted listings on the industrial site sections of major utility Web sites.
  • Continued presence on Georgia Allies electronic newsletter targeted to companies and location consultants.
  • Site awareness for statewide project managers and Georgia Allies partners.

“The Georgia Allies started the program in 2008 in response to what other neighboring states have been doing,” said Croteau. “Because the Georgia Allies is such a complement to the goal of GDEcD, having this program under the Allies strengthens our efforts in developing and promoting properties and facilities.”

Georgia Allies members include AT&T, Atlanta Gas Light, BB&T, Comcast, The Coca-Cola Company, Delta Air Lines, ECG (Electric Cities of Georgia, formerly MEAG Power), Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Department of Economic Development, Georgia Electric Membership Corporation, Georgia Lottery, Georgia Power, Norfolk Southern, Regions Bank, SunTrust Bank and Wells Fargo.

Another recent GRAD project is Shrivallabh Pittie (SV Pittie) Group, which announced in October 2013 that it will build its first U.S.-based manufacturing facility near Sylvania, creating 250 jobs and investing $70 million. The project is located at the Screven County Industrial Park, a GRAD certified site.

The 90-acre pad ready site at Screven County Industrial Park is located on GA-21, which provides four-lane access to the Port of Savannah as well as easy connections to I-95, I-16, and I-20.

In order to become GRAD certified, a site application must meet 11 requirements including site acreage, secured property, zoning, railroad accessibility, road accessibility, utilities, wetlands and stream delineation, topographic survey, geotechnical investigations, environmental phase 1 assessment, and cultural resources and endangered species investigation.

“Speeding up the time to market has never been a more critical site-selection factor for companies than now,” said Croteau. “Economic development leaders in Georgia know this, which is why GRAD sites have become a top priority for our department as we market Georgia as a great place to do business.”

SV Pittie Group is a leading textile manufacturer with substantial presence in the Indian textile sector, operating in 13 locations. The plant will manufacture a range of different counts of carded cotton yarn and production will be flexible in order to meet market demand.

“We are very excited about this project, which is the biggest single investment in U.S. cotton yarn sector in decades,” said the chairman of Shrivallabh Pittie Group, Vinod Pittie, in a press release. “We believe there is a significant market opportunity for yarn manufacturing in Georgia due to a skilled local workforce, proximity to high-quality cotton fiber, the economical supply and reliability of power and world-class infrastructure to international markets.”

According to Croteau, the GRAD program is funded by the communities of the chosen sites, so each of the communities already have a vested interest in getting new companies up and running. In addition, some of its prospective investors and many of its site location consultants ask the GDEcD to submit sites that are already certified.

“This is an indication that our customers really appreciate the fact that the communities and property owners have done up front due diligence, which places Georgia in a more competitive position,” said Croteau.


Lacking a statewide site certification program, the regional cities in Spokane County have taken up the reigns in promoting the area to new businesses. Their certification programs serve as a critical tool for business recruitment and expansion including helping to develop the region as an aerospace hub.

Companies have located or relocated to the Spokane area drawn by the easy access to raw materials and lower operating costs, such as cheap hydroelectric power. Economic development in the Spokane area primarily focuses on promoting six industries which include manufacturing, aerospace manufacturing, health sciences, information technology, clean technology, and digital media.

Developed in cooperation with Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI), the City of Spokane Site Certification program allows for property owners to have their property deemed shovel-ready and speed the process for permit application on their site.

“Site certification has become a national competitive advantage for many locations,” said Robin Toth, GSI’s Vice President for Business Development. Spokane’s local communities have positioned themselves to deliver a strong value proposition to site selectors and corporations for investment in our region.”

Once a property has been approved through the program, Site Certification is the city’s promise to both the owners and buyers of commercial and industrial property that its sites have appropriate infrastructure, such as water and wastewater and transportation, and that land use and zoning is appropriate. Environmental issues are also identified up-front.

The approved site is then listed on the Spokane Certified Sites website. This provides another tool in the economic development toolbox for GSI to market to its database of 2,200-plus site selectors, corporate real estate brokers and prospective clients.

The Aerospace Initiative for Recruitment Spokane has taken several steps to make a 300-acre site near Spokane International Airport shovel-ready for Boeing Co. or another major aerospace company. Such a company potentially could develop 1.5 million square feet of building space there.

The initiative, called AIR Spokane for short, is a partnership between business, elected officials and community leaders to grow Spokane’s aerospace industry. Spoken County has the second largest presence of aerospace companies in the state outside of the Puget Sound Region. More than 120 regional aerospace companies, employing over 12,000 people, call the Spokane region home.

The site could accommodate 1.5 million square foot production or manufacturing facility. Its environmental review has been completed and fast track permitting is available.

The City of Spokane Valley has also implemented a Certified Site Program, which provides an inventory of industrial/commercial sites that have undergone a rigorous pre-qualification process. This ensures that the sites meet a consistent set of standards, and are poised for development.

Certified Sites approved under this program will have detailed information about the site such as availability and location of utilities, access, environmental concerns and potential development costs.

Cheney Industrial and Commerce Park (CICP), the first site to be certified in Spokane County, offers high-speed fiber optic broadband and all other utilities fully installed. (Photo: cityofcheney.org.)
Cheney Industrial and Commerce Park (CICP), the first site to be certified in Spokane County, offers high-speed fiber optic broadband and all other utilities fully installed. (Photo: cityofcheney.org.)

The City of Cheney is located seven miles to the southwest of Spokane International Airport, and is the home to Eastern Washington University (EWU). In 2012, the City of Cheney contracted with CB Richard Ellis, a commercial real estate company, where they conducted an independent evaluation of the Cheney Industrial and Commerce Park (CICP) and certified the site as being ready for development. This was the first site to be certified in Spokane County.

The CICP is a technologically advanced business park which will serve the growing needs of high tech and aerospace manufacturing industries in Eastern Washington. Situated on 38 acres within the city limits of Cheney, the CICP has high speed fiber optics, all other utilities fully installed, and has flexibility for businesses at any stage of development. More importantly is the location and proximity of the CICP in relation to EWU, and the emphasis EWU is placing on STEM education. STEM represents the disciplines and areas of study that will demand the highest growth in EWU enrollment in order to support the future demands of a society becoming increasingly dependent on advanced technology and knowledge.


In January, Business Facilities named Tennessee as our 2013 State of the Year, primarily due to its aggressive execution of a diversified growth strategy and robust job creation.

Since its inception in 2012, SelectTennessee has certified 26 greenfield sites, and brought new facilities to certified sites in Benton, Dyer and Montgomery counties. The TNECD partners with Austin Consulting and The Foote Consulting Group to administer the program. (Photo: stategazette.com.)
Since its inception in 2012, SelectTennessee has certified 26 greenfield sites, and brought new facilities to certified sites in Benton, Dyer and Montgomery counties. The TNECD partners with Austin Consulting and The Foote Consulting Group to administer the program. (Photo: stategazette.com.)

Tennessee nailed down the top spot with major new projects that created 6,900 jobs and lured millions in investments from overseas producers for new and expanded U.S. manufacturing facilities. The state snared the top prize from South Korea, tire producer Hankook Tire’s first U.S. plant, an $800-million investment that will bring 1,850 jobs to Clarksville-Montgomery County over the next five years.

After evaluating hundreds of potential locations throughout the southern U.S., Hankook announced in October 2013 that it will locate at the Clarksville Corporate Business Park. The park is a “SelectTennessee” certified site, meaning that the site meets specific standards and qualifications including at least 20 developable acres, proper zoning, utilities, and truck-quality road access.

Since its inception in 2012, the SelectTennessee program has certified 26 greenfield sites and new facilities are being located at certified sites in Benton, Dyer and Montgomery counties. The Tennessee Department of Economic Development (TNECD) partnered with world-class site selection firms Austin Consulting and The Foote Consulting Group to administer the program.

“This new facility will help Hankook Tire accomplish our plan to establish a production base in all major markets,” said Seung Hwa Suh, Hankook, vice chairman and CEO, speaking at the announcement ceremony in Clarksville.

Clarksville, a city of about 140,000 about 50 miles northwest of Nashville, offers an extensive transportation network including rail, plane and interstate highway networks as well as regional access to the Mississippi River inland waterway.

Becoming the largest tenant at the business park, Hankook Tire plans to build its facility on 469 acres over the next few years. Construction is scheduled to begin this year and will result in a 1.5 million square foot advanced manufacturing facility which will produce high-end performance tires.

“The auto sector is a key industry cluster where Tennessee has a distinct advantage with more than 900 auto suppliers and manufacturers, and [this] announcement reinforces our goal of becoming the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs,” said Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam in a press release.

Tennessee’s automotive sector, the largest in the South in terms of employment, has led the state’s post-recession economic recovery having generated over 12 percent of the state’s job creation since the recession and more than one-third of the manufacturing sector’s output growth since 2010. The automotive industry includes 910 companies employing 113,148 Tennesseans and investing $31.5 billion.

SelectTennessee played a key role in Beretta USA’s decision to locate just outside of metro Nashville. In January 2014, Beretta, a global manufacturer of high-quality sporting and military firearms, announced it is expanding its U.S. operations by building a new firearms manufacturing plant in the Gallatin Industrial Park, a certified site. The company will invest $45 million in a state-of-the-art manufacturing and R&D facility at the site and create 300 new jobs.

“From the moment when we started to consider a location outside of the State of Maryland for our manufacturing expansion, Governor Haslam and his economic development team did an excellent job demonstrating the benefits of doing business in Tennessee “We are convinced we could find no better place than Tennessee to establish our new manufacturing enterprise.”

The program is also helping rural communities, which often don’t see a lot of project activity, receive guidance for uncertified sites to achieve a higher level of preparedness.

“That is one of the goals of the program—to put in place a set of guidelines and provide professional assistance for rural communities,” said Kendrick J. Curtis, PhD, Director of Community and Rural Development for TNECD. “Rural communities now have access to a national site selection firm to help them prepare for projects.”

The new Dot Foods distribution center in Dyersburg is a great example of this. In November 2013, Dot Foods, the nation’s largest food redistributor, broke ground on its new $24 million distribution center in Dyersburg Industrial Park located in rural Dyer County.

The Dyersburg/Dyer Chamber credits the Select Tennessee program with Dot Foods’ comfort with the site early in the recruitment process. As a result, the company is opening its first distribution center in Tennessee, creating 157 new jobs for the community. The 166,494-square foot distribution center is scheduled for completion by September 2014.

SelectTennessee also offers a reimbursable grant for up to 80 percent of eligible expenses incurred in the process of achieving certification status. Each grant has a maximum award of $7,500 and only Tier 2 or Tier 3 counties are eligible for the grant, meaning distressed and more rural counties with unemployment and high poverty.

“A high level of quality was very important to us in establishing this program because we recognize that a program that wasn’t founded in a stringent, due diligence process and was only a marketing program would not be sustainable,” said Curtis. “Communities who can’t complete the entire process can obtain guidance online with strict instructions and use it as a roadmap for capital budgeting and determine a plan over the next several years.”

To obtain more information about Select Tennessee, visit TNECD’s website at http://www.tnecd.com/sites.html.


For the past three years, the Certified in Wisconsin Program has played a key role in helping Wisconsin communities showcase their prime industrial sites and in turn, attract new development to the state.

Since the program’s inception, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has worked with local officials to certify 13 sites as “development-ready” to enhance their marketability.

A Certified in Wisconsin site is one that has been reviewed and approved by WEDC as meeting certain development criteria. WEDC is utilizing Deloitte Consulting to evaluate sites that are determined ready for development and meet certification requirements. The certification process provides detailed documentation about a site’s price, availability, utilities, access, and environmental standing. Once a site is certified, a potential developer has all the information needed to make a quick decision about whether that site is right for their needs.

The Certified in Wisconsin program is giving Wisconsin communities a competitive edge when it comes to luring new business.

“The early successes we have seen make it clear that this program is what companies and site selectors are looking for as they consider options for relocation and expansion,” said Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of the WEDC. “Pre-certifying commercial and industrial sites not only enables companies to find the ideal location for their development, but also gives them the certainty to know they can begin building there immediately.”

The program’s most recent success was in February 2014, when United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI), a national organic food distributor, announced it would open a distribution center on a certified site in Prescott. The $37.8 million project is bringing 300-plus jobs to northwestern Wisconsin.

The 300,000-square-foot facility, located about 30 miles southeast of the Twin Cities, will be the company’s second distribution center in Wisconsin. UNFI, which was ranked by Fortune 2006-2010 and 2012 as one of its “Most Admired Companies,” also plans to open a 425,000-square-foot distribution and warehouse in Racine County this spring.

Construction on the Prescott facility is expected to begin in May and will take about one year to complete. The city was selected after the company conducted a multistate search.

“UNFI is pleased to partner with the State of Wisconsin and Prescott to expand our operations,” said Sean Griffin, UNFI’s group president in a press release. “We feel the location is the optimal location for us to better service our customers and increase our operational efficiencies while reducing our costs and emissions. We look forward to growing together with this great community.”

The distribution center will be built in the Eagle Ridge Business Park, a Certified in Wisconsin site.

“I doubt very much whether any national business site locator and broker could have known about the Eagle Ridge Business Park location without the benefit of WEDC’s Certified In Wisconsin Program and its highly visible website,” said Mark Huber, the mayor of Prescott, in a press release. “The program was the ‘lightening rod’ that helped to make our business park location visible to business site selectors and brokers.”

The site being certified as being ready for development was one of the factors in UNFI’s decision to locate in Prescott, company and state officials said. Other factors including the site’s proximity to the Twin Cities and a nearby four-lane highway; the willingness of the state and city to work together on incentives; and the low cost of doing business in Wisconsin.

J. Michael Mullis, the Tennessee-based project location specialist who worked with UNFI throughout the selection process, said among the reasons the company selected Wisconsin was the state’s overall business-friendly environment and the ability of the state and city to respond quickly to the company’s needs.

“UNFI examined numerous locations and weighed a variety of factors,” Mullis said in a press release. “But in the end, the location in Prescott made sense for many reasons.”

The program’s very first success story happened in October 2013 with the announcement that a $14.5 million warehouse would be constructed at a 760-acres certified site in Stevens Point. The 157,000-square-foot Service Cold Storage facility is the first announced development under the certification program.

Stevens Point officials believe the project is just the first of many other businesses that will open in the East Park Commerce Center, which could ultimately generate thousands of new jobs and increase the city’s tax base by $300 to $500 million.

“We believe the success we’re seeing in Stevens Point can be replicated in Wisconsin Rapids and other communities with certified sites,” said Hall. “This is just another example of the many economic development tools that Governor Walker and WEDC is utilizing to accelerate business startup and growth in Wisconsin.”

For more information on Certified in Wisconsin, visit www.inwisconsin.com/ why-wisconsin/available-sites/certified-in-wisconsin.


Iowa’s new site certification program is helping to fill the demand for project-ready industrial sites, making the decision to locate in Iowa an easy one.

On April 28, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds announced the first four industrial sites to achieve certification through the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) certified site program. These four sites are located in the communities of Fort Dodge, Iowa Falls, Van Meter and Dexter.

The IEDA rolled out the Iowa Certified Site Program two years ago as an effort to have project-ready sites available for businesses looking to break ground on new facilities.

Funded with a $400,000 allocation from the State Legislature, the program seeks certification for specific sites in the state it can call project-ready in an effort to entice business to locate there. The program is designed to consider a combination of national site location standards as well as Iowa’s natural assets and industry needs of the state’s targeted sectors.

“Creating jobs and increasing family incomes for Iowans is my administration’s top priority,” said Gov. Branstad. “With the announcement that four Iowa sites have gone through a rigorous certification process to be considered ‘development-ready,’ we are moving Iowa to the top of the list for projects that are looking for a home. Those projects mean more Iowa jobs.”

IEDA chose the nationally recognized site selection firm of McCallum Sweeney Consulting (MSC) as the state’s consultant. The firm evaluated the sites based on availability, transportation options and access to transportation.

“Iowa is improving its competitive position in the world of site selection by certifying these four industrial sites,” said Debi Durham, director of the IEDA. “These are four great sites to kick-off Iowa’s Certified Sites Program. We are looking forward to seeing many more sites around the state achieve this important designation.”

The four sites certified were among eight applicants in the first round that kicked off in May 2012. After working through the rigorous certification process, the following four sites achieved certification:

  • The Webster County Ag Center in Fort Dodge
  • Van Meter Vision Park in Van Meter
  • Metro West Interstate and Rail Park in Dexter
  • Iowa Falls/Hardin County Industrial Park in Iowa Falls

“Hats off to Fort Dodge, Van Meter, Dexter and Iowa Falls for dedicating nearly two year to this process,” said Lt. Gov. Reynolds. “Though our administration works tirelessly to attract businesses and jobs to our state, Governor Branstad and I know the final sale is made at the local level. I commend these Iowa communities for time well spent that will pay dividends locally and for our state as a whole.”

Three subsequent application rounds have been opened since the program was established and 15 additional sites are currently working their way through various phases of the program. The next round of applications will be accepted in July for the following categories:

  • General Industrial Site: 50-249 contiguous acres
  • Large Site: 250–499 contiguous acres
  • Super Site: 500–999 contiguous acres
  • Mega Site: 1,000+ contiguous acres
  • General Industrial Park: 100+ acres with one site ≥ 50 acres
  • Super Park: 500+ acres with one site ≥ 250 acres

For more information about the Iowa Certified Site Program, visit www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/SiteLocation/CertifiedSite.


South Carolina’s site certification program has helped the state land several major projects, catapulting economic growth and job creation across the state.

The new Continental Tire manufacturing facility is expected to create 1,700 jobs, cementing the Palmetto State’s status as a leading U.S. tire production hub.
The new Continental Tire manufacturing facility is expected to create 1,700 jobs, cementing the Palmetto State’s status as a leading U.S. tire production hub.

Developed in partnership with McCallum Sweeney Consulting, a nationally known consulting firm, the South Carolina Department of Commerce (SCDOC) Industrial Site Certification Program is a 3-step process that evaluates sites against a comprehensive set of standards that addresses the startup demands of the manufacturing industry and mirrors their site selection process. McCallum Sweeney provides site selection and incentive negotiation services to leading companies worldwide and has been instrumental in many high-profile automotive and industrial relocations and expansions across the country.

The SCDOC Industrial Site Certification Program can save a prospect a considerable amount of time on its site selection and start-up schedule by proactively addressing and documenting the ability to develop, serve and market the property. The requirements are tiered based on the size and configuration of the property, requiring larger sites and parks to meet higher infrastructure capacity requirements—and smaller sites and parks to be ready in a shorter time period.

The SCDOC credits the program with assisting to attract major new projects including:

  • Bridgestone Americas’ $1.2-billion investment in Aiken County that created 850 jobs.
  • Continental Tire the Americas’ $500-million investment in Sumter County expected to create 1,700 jobs.
  • Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation’s $313-million investment in Lexington County expected to generate 707 new jobs.
  • Amazon’s $50 million investment in Spartanburg County that is expected to create hundreds of new jobs.

One of the most recent success stories is Toray Industries’ decision to select South Carolina as the new location for its business expansion in the U.S. In February 2014, Toray Industries, a Tokyo-based manufacturer and global leader in fibers and textiles, plastic resins, films and carbon fiber composite materials, announced it is investing $1 billion in Spartanburg County and creating 500 jobs. When completed, this will represent the company’s only consolidated facility that houses the entire carbon fiber production process from start to finish.

The 400 acre certified site is located along Highway 290 in Moore, with access to Interstates 26 and 85. The new facility will be a major supplier of advanced materials to the aerospace industry.

Toray views the U.S. as a key expansion market for the company due to the revival in manufacturing that is pushing demand for advanced materials, particularly those used in the aerospace and energy-related industries. Aerospace in South Carolina is a burgeoning industry, with more than 200 aerospace companies employing around 20,000 South Carolinians.

“Toray’s selection of Spartanburg is a great example of our community’s public/private partnership in recruiting quality companies,” said Russ Weber, Chairman of the Spartanburg Economic Futures Group Board of Directors. “Our core team of economic development professionals has worked tirelessly to provide Toray with the needed information to come to this decision and we are appreciative of all the efforts made locally to ensure we got to this point.”

The $1 billion capital investment represents one of the highest initial investments in the state’s history.

“The success of our economic development efforts hinges on the availability of quality product to show prospects looking to locate or expand in our state,” said Secretary Bobby Hitt, Secretary of Commerce. “South Carolina’s site certification process is among the most rigorous in the nation and provides the equivalent of a ‘Good Housekeeping seal of approval.’ This ultimately saves our prospects time and money, and it minimizes their risk during the site selection process.”

On the private sector side, Duke Energy is also assisting to prepare sites in South Carolina through its Site Readiness Program. Duke Energy has selected five South Carolina properties for participation in its 2014 Site Readiness Program—Round 1 to prepare the properties for potential industrial development.

The locations include the Capps II Industrial site in Marion County, the Florence Regional Airport Industrial Park in Florence County; Alligator Industrial Park in Chesterfield County; the Reliance Industrial Site in Marlboro County; and a site in Kingstree in Williamsburg County.

“We are pleased to have these five counties in the program,” said Stu Heishman, Duke Energy’s vice president for economic and business development. “Since the Site Readiness Program began in 2006, Duke Energy has evaluated 114 sites in the Carolinas. We’ve been successful. So far, we’ve won 12 major projects on those properties, resulting in approximately 2,100 jobs and approximately $2.9 billion in capital investment.”

It is important to note that the Duke Site Readiness Program is not as comprehensive as the SC Commerce Certified Site program but mirrors the first steps of certification. The Duke Energy program identifies, evaluates and improves industrial sites in the company’s service territory to help communities served by the utility compete for new companies and jobs. It includes:

  • An initial assessment of industrial sites (existing or potential) from the perspective of a top site selection consultant, McCallum Sweeney Consulting.
  • A detailed “buildability” assessment and development of conceptual plans for the sites by expert land use and site planners.
  • For each site the studies validate as viable for a large industry, Duke Energy will provide a matching grant for implementing improvements recommended by the studies.

Ideal candidates for Duke Energy’s Site Readiness Program are 75 acres or larger and served by the utility. A qualified site can be suited for a single, large industrial facility or data center, or a potential industrial park (multi-tenant site). Several participants have then moved on to pursue certification through the SCDOC Site Certification Program after completing the Duke Site Readiness Program.

For more information on the SC Commerce Certified Site program, visit www.sccommerce.com/data-resources/ publications/site-certification-2014-program-manual. For more information on Duke Energy’s Site Readiness Program, visit www.considerthecarolinas.com/site-readiness.asp.


  1. Hello, I represent several industrial sites and properties in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. It is a US/Mexico bordertown.
    I would like to know if there is a “shovel ready” or a “site certification” program that would apply for our sites.
    Thank you

Comments are closed.