By Ginger Livingston
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Greenville and Pitt County need the facilities that will make a quick move possible for new companies.
That was the message delivered to the Pitt County Committee of 100 on Tuesday by Insite Consulting, a firm studying how prepared the community is to recruit new business.
The firm’s final report should be complete in a few weeks, but Rob Cornwell, principal with the company, presented the initial findings during the Committee of 100’s annual meeting.
“Pitt County’s ability to recruit jobs is very good,” Cornwell said. “With some enhancements to the process, the potential is even greater because you have a lot of resources in the community.”
What the community needs is a shell building with sufficient height, he said.
“That’s a major issue because 85 percent of (economic development) projects are generated from buildings,” Cornwell said.
When companies want to relocate, they do not want to wait months for construction. A shell building will cost about $2 million, Cornwell said. A structure located in Indigreen Corporate Park likely would cost $3 million because of design covenants, according to Wanda Yuhas, the Pitt County Development Commission’s executive director.
“I’m not saying the county should fund it or the Committee of 100 (should fund it),” Cornwell said. “Maybe it should be a joint project.”
Cornwell noted that Pitt County has the ability to direct up to three cents of its ad valorem tax toward economic development. As of now, it is spending less than one cent on development, he said.
Cornwell said the community should discuss increasing funding.
Greenville and Pitt County have numerous strengths, Cornwell said. Greenville Utilities has enough excess water and sewer capacity to accommodate most industry, he said.
“You have really nice industrial parks,” he said. “The four we looked at present themselves well.”
East Carolina University, Vidant Health Systems and Pitt Community College, along with local industries, are important draws, Cornwell said, because they show the community has an available workforce with varied skills and facilities needed for additional training.
Cornwell said the community also has done a good job promoting entrepreneurial development with the Technology Enterprise Center and the City of Greenville’s SEED program, which offers space to startup companies.
Besides the lack of a shell building, some the community’s weaknesses include a lack of aggressive incentive programs, no industrial sites within the city and the fact that no new industry has moved to the community in the last three years.
Cornwell said potential clients can be steered from that last issue because the community has seen several successful expansions of industry.
The community also needs a vision for riverfront development, Cornwell said. Greenville has a suitable downtown that can support development on the waterfront, he said.
“We’ve got to get something going down there,” he said.
The community also needs a consistent economic development message, Cornwell said.
Contact Ginger Livingston at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-329-9570.
via The Daily Reflector.