Where work and play collide
Trivium Corporate Center in Catawba County is a 270-acre industrial park that has attracted three major employers. Photo courtesy of Catawba County EDC.
By Teri Saylor
Appeared as a sponsored section from the April 2020 issue
Across North Carolina, industrial, commerce and research parks are becoming magnets for clusters of businesses seeking the perfect environment to locate and expand.
Whether designed as live, work and play environments; branded as business and commerce parks to reflect the shift from the manufacturing facilities of old to the high-tech environment today; or developed as smaller sites in search of companies seeking a perfect fit, modern industrial parks have fashioned their own unique amenities and are marketing to potential clients.
Pender Commerce Park
Pender Commerce Park was created through a two-part land purchase from the chemical company BASF. Pender County bought the first tract of 380 acres in 2006 for $4 million and acquired the second tract of 396 acres in 2010 for about $1.6 million. BASF shuttered the facility in 2009, according to Scott Satterfield, CEO of Wilmington Business Development, a nonprofit that leads business-development initiatives for New Hanover and Pender counties and Wilmington.
Of the nearly 800 acres, about 450 are suitable for development. The other acreage is wetlands.
“BASF left behind a fantastic site,” Satterfield says. “It’s in close proximity to Wilmington and the state port and accessible by U.S. Route 421, a four-lane highway.”
Growth has been swift at Pender Commerce Park, starting with the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Acme Smoked Fish, which moved to the park in 2012 and operates a $30 million production site with 138 employees.
Since 2012, Coastal Beverage, Empire Distributors, FedEx and Polyhose India have joined Acme in the commerce park, occupying more than 600,000 square feet of building space and investing $100 million.
Burton Business and Industrial Park
About 30 miles north of Pender County, the Burton Business and Industrial Park in Onslow County is also thriving, according to Sheila Knight, Jacksonville Onslow Economic Development project director. The 735-acre park was established two decades ago as a cornerstone project in Onslow County’s effort to attract world-class companies.
In 2010, the park opened a 50,000-square-foot shell building. The investment paid off with American Builders & Contractors Supply occupying the site since 2014.
The park recently completed construction of a 30,000-square-foot shell building with 30-foot ceilings and accommodations to double in size if needed, according to Knight. The economic-development officials have their focus on light manufacturing and small to midsize local businesses looking to expand, Knight says.
“We are not a megasite,” she says. “We are branding this park as a business park rather than an industrial park to place emphasis on 21st-century companies that focus on advanced manufacturing and clean, high-tech processes.”
Park East Industrial Park
The Park East Industrial Park in Goldsboro, which occupies 150 acres in the eastern part of the city, touts easy access to major highways and ports.
Economic-development officials are eyeing entrepreneurs, distribution companies, warehousing, logistics and light manufacturing as ideal prospects for the site.
Currently, seven companies have taken up residence. Among them are suppliers of goods and services for the aviation sector, food-distribution centers and a home-furnishings outlet. Atlantic Casualty Insurance received a $400,000 grant from the North Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority to support a $13 million, 30,000-square-foot expansion on the site.
“The economy is good. North Carolina has a favorable business environment,” says Mark Pope, president of the Wayne County Development Alliance. “And Wayne County is growing.”
The Innovation Quarter in Winston-Salem is becoming a gold standard for repurposing former industrial sites into a higher use.
In 2010, Reynolds American donated $2 million and nearly 40 acres in downtown Winston-Salem to support the project, according to Graydon Pleasants, head of real estate development for the Innovation Quarter.
Over the last 10 years, Innovation Quarter has cultivated its technology ecosystem. Wake Forest Biotech Place opened in 2012 in renovated R.J. Reynolds Tobacco warehouses, and Inmar, a technology and data-analytics service provider, relocated 900 employees to a new team-support center and headquarters in two buildings.
Bailey Park, which opened in 2015, invites the greater community into its 1.6-acre green space, a haven for outdoor entertainment, relaxation and recreation. The old Reynolds Tobacco coal-fired power plant has been converted into a mixed-use space and houses Winston-Salem’s Venture Café, part of a global network that fosters innovation by connecting people and hosting programs that enable collaboration and offer resources.
“Winston-Salem is historically known for entrepreneurs who built the city,” Pleasants says. “I’m referring to companies like Piedmont Airlines, McLean Trucking, [R.J.] Reynolds Tobacco, Hanes Hosiery, Wachovia Bank and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.” Innovation Quarter is a 21st-century iteration of the city’s pioneering spirit, he adds.
Trivium Corporate Center
Trivium Corporate Center is a project jointly developed by the city of Hickory, Catawba County and the Catawba County Economic Development Corp. using $4.5 million in proceeds from a $40 million bond the county passed in 2014.
Trivium, an advanced-manufacturing park, means “the place where three roads meet,” according to Scott Millar, president of the economic-development group. The corporate center is located along the main connector between Interstate 40 and U.S. 70 and 321.
With 270 acres, Trivium has already attracted three major businesses.
Corning built a cable-manufacturing facility for its optical-communications business segment. Isotopen Technologien München, a group of radiopharmaceutical companies in Germany, has selected Catawba County for its first North American manufacturing facility, and Cataler, a Japanese auto-parts manufacturer, is building its second manufacturing plant at the park. In total, the three companies are investing $114 million and adding about 400 jobs.
Trivium represents a renaissance for Hickory, which was hit hard by the 2008 recession. By 2010, the city had lost approximately 25% of its residents aged 20 to 44. Over the last six years, the city has rebounded, Millar says.
“By far, this is a very exciting time,” Millar says. “Hickory is becoming cool again.”