Former Greensboro Mayor Jim Melvin and other Triad executives are exuberant about the North Carolina Railroad’s $13 million purchase of about 875 acres in Randolph County, completing a giant industrial site that they hope will attract a car manufacturer. It’s unclear if the region will land its target, but the implications for North Carolina’s state-owned railroad are obvious: It’s flexing its economic-development muscle, President Scott Saylor says.
“A lot of folks don’t realize how hard we’ve been hit,” says Melvin, chairman of the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite Foundation, which has spearheaded assembling land for the site. In the last several decades, the region lost 90,000 jobs. The latest development puts about 1,450 acres owned or under the foundation’s control, which gives the Triad something tangible to market to industrial prospects. “This is a step in the right direction. We’re going to be out there in front of everybody now.”
Created in 1849, the railroad traverses the state, 317 miles to Charlotte in the south and the port at Morehead City to the east, giving the Greensboro-Randolph site a crucial industrial artery in two directions. “Manufacturing sites with rail are becoming more scarce because of suburban and urban growth,” Saylor says. “We know that rail will be a requirement for a major [original equipment manufacturer].”
The railroad from Greensboro east could be invaluable in landing an auto manufacturer. North Carolina Railroad in recent years has invested more than $70 million in upgrading the line from Selma, in Johnston County, to Morehead City, and it already owns two 75-acre industrial sites in Johnston and Wayne counties. A foreign carmaker — or a domestic one with global reach — would need a port connection to ship and receive bulky parts such as transmissions and tires to a Triad assembly plant, or to send out finished vehicles.
Though the main source of the railroad’s operating revenue is its lease with Norfolk Southern, Saylor and Triad officials don’t rule out a role for rival CSX, which disclosed plans — hotly contested by residents — for a $272 million, 450-acre intermodal terminal in Johnston County.
GREENSBORO – ConvaTec Healthcare will close its local plant by the first quarter of 2017, and about 250 employees will lose their jobs. The company makes medical products including wound dressings and catheters. A spinout of Bristol-Myers Squibb, ConvaTec has more than 9,000 employees in eight countries and is owned by Nordic Capital and Avista Capital Partners.
OAK RIDGE – Tom Wayne became president of Oak Ridge Financial Services, parent of Bank of Oak Ridge. Wayne has been chief financial officer since the bank was founded in 2000. He replaces Ron Black, president and CEO, who stepped down after 16 years. Black will remain vice chairman of the board of directors.
WINSTON-SALEM – Reynolds American named Jerome Abelman to its board of directors. Abelman is director of legal and external affairs and general counsel at British American Tobacco. He replaces John Daly, a director since 2010, who resigned.
WINSTON-SALEM –Microfibres closed its local plant, idling 125 workers. The Pawtucket, R.I.-based company, which makes nylon fabrics for upholstered furniture, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
ASHEBORO – Asheboro Elastics will lay off 90 people at its local plant. Founded by the late Keith Crisco in 1986, the company makes knitted and woven elastics for underwear, athletic apparel and other clothing.
Burlington – LabCorp named Richelle Parham, previously chief marketing officer of San Jose, Calif.-based eBay, a director. The health diagnostics company reported annual revenue of $8.5 billion in 2015, up 41.5% over the previous year, due mostly to its $6.2 billion acquisition of New Jersey-based Covance.
Pamela Kohn was named executive vice president and chief merchandising officer of The Fresh Market. Kohn worked for 12 years at Wal-Mart Stores, where she led the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer’s perishables business and Neighborhood Market division. She previously was chief merchandising and marketing officer at Salisbury-based Food Lion.