Community leaders say filling the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite remains a top priority more than a year after Toyota-Mazda decided to pass the on location.
“Projects like this mean thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of investment,” said Brent Christensen, president and CEO of the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce.
Christensen said efforts made while trying to attract Toyota-Mazda could now help them in the future. He said they did five years worth of work in roughly six months. Now, they are working to keep that momentum going.
Within the last year, crews have cleared around 300 acres on site to better see the property. The City of Greensboro has worked to pave the way for water and sewage lines. Duke Energy has been doing the same for its power lines.
“Before we talked about under two years and now we're aiming for under 12 months, that’s when somebody comes to the site, when they can start building,” Christensen said.
Christensen said they’ve also been working to market the area by showing off the site to consultants, going to automotive conferences and being part of the Carolina Core, a regional marketing strategy.
He says we could soon see them get some of the environmental permits needed.
“It will allow us to work on that site in and around those wetlands,” Christensen said.
As community leaders continue to push for progress at the more 1,800-acres site, some people who live in the area are continuing to fight back.
“It just doesn't fit in with where we are, these are farms and families out here,” said Alan Ferguson, president of Northeast Randolph Property Owners.
Ferguson and many members have been saying no to a megasite since 2012.
“Traffic, if there were 2,000 people working there, the traffic would be a little bit different from what you've seen today,” Ferguson said. “The noise, the lights, the smells.”
He’s glad Toyota-Mazda passed on the site, but his group still meets monthly and attends the Randolph County Commissioners meetings to voice their concerns.
“It all comes down to us being happy with things that would not degrade the quality of life here,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson said he would like to see the land used for some type of institution.
Christensen said if a manufacturer, like Toyota-Mazda, comes in, high-skill and high-paying jobs will be added to the community.
When asked about any potential interest in the property, Christensen said big opportunities usually only come around once a year. He sees some on the horizon.