GIBSONVILLE, N.C. -- After months of planning, the Project Haystack team outlined a feasibility study for the Guilford County Board of Commissioners in a work study Thursday.
The team highlighted a potential plan for using land near Gibsonville, including the Guilford County Prison Farm, to create jobs.
Their idea is for the County to develop a total of 2,000 acres, including the 800 acres they already own with the prison farm, to create an industrial park site ready to build on.
Project planners say the site would be ideal for advanced manufacturing, data centers, and an education and research park.
Andy Scott is on the project team and highlighted the economic impact of building such a site. "It would create about 11.5 million square feet of leasable space over a 20 year period. The project would support an average, once it was built out, of about 5,300 jobs, on and off site."
The details are very preliminary, but they estimate a park like this would create $39 million a year in tax base once it was built.
Commissioners questioned where the county and surrounding municipalities would get the initial tens of millions of dollars to invest in getting the site ready for potential companies like data users.
Sheriff B.J. Barnes told FOX8 he agreed with using the prison farm land to help create jobs. But he said the firing range currently on site must remain because it's essential for training law enforcement all over the Piedmont and state.
The Project Haystack team presentation allowed for the gun range to stay in place.
"Every year we go through this. Every year it's the same thing. But this is the biggest and best I've seen. It's very well organized. If it works as they say it would, it could it could be a good thing for Guilford county. But I understand what the neighbors are saying out there- they don't want a bunch of traffic out there. The data centers they're talking about aren't going to create a bunch of traffic," Barnes said.
Board Chair Linda Shaw says the goal is to create jobs and start making money off this prime real estate instead of spending more than a million dollars a year maintaining it.