Not a week goes by that Craig Goodson doesn’t receive an inquiry about the I-85 Corporate Center off of Belmont Road in Linwood.
There’s currently about 193 acres of available land. EGGER Wood Products, the center’s first tenant, is taking up about 238 acres of the land.
Goodson, president and CEO of the Davidson County Economic Development Commission, said the majority of interest has been from either foreign companies or U.S. site selection consulting firms on behalf of foreign companies.
The economic development commission president said the park is suited for large employers that offer higher wages than the county average.
Much of what he’s hearing is tied to e-commerce. “It’s because they need big sites, and that’s what we have,” Goodson said. “We don’t have small sites in the park. We have a couple of outliers that someone could buy — maybe five or seven acres to do something smaller — but our three main parcels are 50 acres and above.”
From a manufacturing standpoint, Goodson is hearing inquiries tied to the aviation and automotive industries and also interest from foreign companies that would serve as a customer of EGGER. Goodson said there hasn’t been much interest from suppliers for EGGER because the company’s main supply is trees.
Although there has been interest each week, Goodson noted that he has seen a decrease in companies wanting to take further steps because of the ongoing tariff battles between the U.S. and foreign countries.
“You still get calls,” Goodson said. “The ones that seemed like they were serious, we’re still talking to them, but a lot of that has been put on hold more so not by the individuals or the company that are involved in trying to locate here in the U.S. It’s more their boards are concerned about what’s going on.”
Goodson said EGGER has worked as a magnet that has led to much of those calls. “Those companies are seeing somebody that is committing to invest almost $800 million and close to 800 jobs, and they’re hearing the story and hearing that they looked all over the country and decided to locate here,” Goodson said. “A lot of the foreign companies look at it and go, ‘Okay, well if they did all that due diligence and decided this was the place they wanted to be, then this should be an area that we should consider.”
Dianne Jones, senior project manager for Development Advisors out of Charlotte, said her site selection company has had several clients who have expressed interest in the I-85 Corporate Center. She added that until the park is full, she doesn’t expect that interest to decrease. “For projects that have a need of 50 acres or more, the I-85 Corporate Center is frequently at the top of our list of recommended sites,” Jones said.
“The corporate park’s access to the interstate, location within the state and existing infrastructure make it a consistently attractive location.” Goodson said the economic development commission’s website, which went live a year and a half ago, has helped draw interest from companies and site selection consultants.
“So much of site location is done by companies themselves,” Goodson said. “... EGGER is a good example. They did everything internally. The majority of it was done by going to websites. ... It has allowed a lot of people to do their own due diligence to see it. Almost every time that we get a call — whether it’s a company or a site location company or a broker — one of the first things they say is, ‘Hey I have a question about this property at I-85 Corporate Center that I saw on your website.’ ”
According to Goodson, the corporate center was made possible by the vision of the county commissioners. He said the county is looking for the right deal and is not feeling pressure to sell off property. Profit won’t be the only measure of success. He said the purpose of the center is to create better employment. There’s also a goal to add training programs to Davidson County Community College, such as EGGER’s apprenticeship program that began in 2018.
Overall, Goodson has a positive outlook for where the center is headed. “What we have, there just isn’t much of it,” Goodson said. “The location, the infrastructure, the ability to have those sized lots for somebody that’s looking to do a large project — that is still pretty hard to find if you want to be on an interstate in North Carolina, and I-85 is the most desired location for manufacturing in North Carolina and South Carolina. We’re in a good position.”
Ben Coley can be reached at (336) 249-3981, ext. 227 or at ben.coley@ the-dispatch.com. Follow Ben on Twitter: @LexDispatchBC