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Setting the stage for development
Region is attracting new investors, activity
Published Wednesday, July 23, 2014 8:00 am
by Ronnie Bryant, Charlotte Regional Partnership

The lure of a Lamborghini first brought Gus Schad to North Carolina. It was the mid-1980s and he was living in Long Island, where he owned a successful wholesale nursery along with several real estate ventures. A friend of his, who knew he was looking for a sports car, told him about a guy in Salisbury named Jim Mauney who operated one of the East Coast’s biggest Lamborghini repair shops.

Schad traveled to Salisbury to take a look, and while none of the cars at the shop struck his fancy, Mauney convinced him to take a look at some investment property he was leasing in north Stanly County’s New London. Schad agreed, but wasn’t in a position to make any investments, so he declined the proposal and returned home to Long Island.

But still, Schad had liked the laid-back atmosphere of Stanly County, and Mauney kept calling, urging him to reconsider. Two years go by. Finally, after Schad closed a big real estate deal in Long Island, he started to rethink Mauney’s offer. Schad wasn’t interested in leasing the land, however. He wanted to buy it.

The problem was that the acreage was co-owned by multiple family members who disagreed about what should be done with it. Figuring he had nothing to lose, Schad made a conditional offer through Mauney, and much to his surprise, all the family members agreed. And that was how Schad bought his first piece of property in North Carolina.

Six years later, in 1990, Schad moved to Stanly County and bought a house on Lake Tillery, and soon became one of the region’s most prolific land developers. Now in his 80s, Schad is still at it. Like most folks in the real estate game, Schad has had a lean couple of years. But now, with the lure of lower taxes and business costs, he hopes to attract new and expanding companies with two industrial parks, including the 150-acre Meadow Creek Business Park in Locust, and the 180-acre Prime Power Park in Albemarle. Specifically, he’s targeting companies at the Hauppauge Industrial Park in his old home town of Long Island, which is one of the largest parks in the country, with some 1,300 businesses.

This is just one example of how Charlotte USA counties are positioning themselves for economic development opportunites. Cliff Brumfield, executive director of the Lincoln Economic Development Association, says the county’s newest business and industrial park, Airlie Business Park, is now complete. The park is already home to Hydac, a German-owned manufacturer of hydraulic filters, accumulators, valves and cooling systems. Brumfield expects Hydac’s recent expansion to Airlie to attract other firms to the park, bringing more jobs and capital investment.

Moreover, Lincoln County has embarked on a unique partnership with neighboring Gaston County, in which they are both marketing the 800-acre Woodcock Farms, which straddles the Lincoln/Gaston county line, as a prime spot for a business and industrial park.

In Catawba County, Michael McNally, director of Existing Industry Services, says the City of Claremont, along with Catawba County and the EDC, are expected to complete the 51,200-square-foot Claremont spec building by August. This building, which can be expanded to 128,000 square feet, is the first of many facilities that will be developed in an effort to recruit manufacturing companies to the area, McNally says. Chesterfield County has a spec building as well, in Cheraw, S.C. The 52,284-square-foot space can be expanded to 102,000 square feet and is just a short drive from Interstate 74.  

There’s also quite a bit of activity in York County, where Jason Flora, marketing specialist for economic development, says there are multiple spec buildings in various stages of development. These include the 275,000-square-foot Riverwalk Business Park, the 50,000-square-foot Carolina Place spec building, and the 40,000-quare-foot Waterford spec building. Construction on all these projects is expected to start this fall.  

I love seeing this kind of business activity because it makes the region stronger, and aids us in recruiting companies to the area and putting qualified projects in the pipeline. As the Partnership gears up for this fiscal year’s economic development trips and initiatives, we’re excited to be working with our partnering counties and private stakeholders. Together, using our combined assets and resources, we can further strengthen Charlotte USA and steer the region towards even greater prosperity and success.

Notable news
Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, based in Mumbai, India, has announced plans to set up a new manufacturing facility in Monroe. The new 100,000-square-foot facility will manufacture oral solids, injectables and topicals. “Our plan to set up a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in the U.S. underlines the fast-paced growth the company has witnessed in a short span of eight years in the U.S. market and our long-term commitment to the country,” said Glenmark Chairman Glenn Saldanhain a press release. “The U.S. is a key strategic market for Glenmark and it is important for us to have a manufacturing base here to serve our growing business in the country.”

The company expects to start manufacturing activity by the end of FY 2014–15. This is the company’s first manufacturing facility in North America. 

Charlotte earned high marks as a friendly environment for small businesses, according to a new survey by Thumbtack.com and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The survey polled more than 12,000 entrepreneurs and asked them to describe different environments they experience in cities and states across the nation, and then assigned letter grades based on a number of factors,  including the ease of starting a business and hiring; regulations such as zoning, environmental and tax codes; and programs for training and networking. Charlotte earned an "A" for overall friendliness, up from a "B" grade last year. Charlotte also scored a solid “B” for ease of hiring. This is great news for the region as Charlotte USA continues to attract dynamic and innovative new companies with high growth potential.

FedEx is working with SunCap Property Group to develop a $41 million, 330,000-square-foot facility at The International Business Park at Concord. The new building will house FedEx’s SmartPost unit, which was previously located in Charlotte. The company will employ 59 full-time workers and 462 part-time workers at the new facility. The city of Concord has agreed to pay about $700,000 in incentives to bring the facility from Charlotte.

Ronnie Bryant is President of Charlotte Regional Partnership.


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