You probably had someone tell you about a universal truth that everything changes – nothing stays the same, over time.
And the people who are trying to grow the economy of the Piedmont Triad have changed their game plan and have a new way to market the area called, “The Carolina Core.”
“The Carolina Core lives between the Triangle and Charlotte, where, across that urban crescent, Triangle, Triad and Charlotte – there are eight million people, eight million North Carolinians live in the urban crescent – and in the next 20 years, another one million people will move to North Carolina, the majority of them will live in that urban crescent,” says Stan Kelly, who is the president and CEO of the Piedmont Triad Partnership, which helps develop and market the area.
Key to their work are four, “megasites,” which are large areas that, in some case, are undeveloped or very open for development.
There are four in The Carolina Core: One southwest of Raleigh in the town of Moncure, another near Siler City, a third at the Guilford/Randolph County line and a fourth at the Piedmont Triad International Airport, one of the larger undeveloped industrial areas connected to an airport in the entire country.
Kelly sees them as the heart of growing this area in ways that are similar to the booming growth of the Triangle and Charlotte.
“I see the Triangle growth and Charlotte growth as plusses for our region as they grow in this direction,” says Kelly. “You won’t know where the Triangle, Triad and Charlotte regions stop and start, in twenty years. It will be one, big urban crescent.”
The megasites are ripe for a major manufacturer like the auto industry. Mark Owens saw what an auto plant can do for an area when he was head of the Chamber of Commerce in Greer, SC. Data from the state says that more than 50,000 jobs are directly tied to the BMW plant.
“What I always talk about is, people hear job numbers and things like that, pause for a minute and think about that’s impacting lives,” says Owens, who now runs the Winston-Salem Chamber. “That’s changing cycles of poverty, for example putting people through work to care for their families, to put their kids through school, it is a game-changing announcement, when that happens. Not just for the one company that we hear about but all the suppliers that will want to locate in that area.”
But Owens points out that it doesn’t have to be an auto manufacturer.
“Aviation’s a hot sector, right now, especially in North Carolina,” he says.
Stan Kelly agrees.
“Aerospace is another huge, huge advantage and we have assets in that regard,” he says.
And Kelly goes on to point out how well this area is set up to get something big at the megasites.
“Large manufacturing companies, we’re on the radar screen, first of all, they know about us. And when you companion together that we’re in a great state for business – North Carolina – we have a labor force in this region that’s very attractive, it’s large and it’s well-skilled, we have higher education assets in this region that are almost second to none. So, we have thirty higher education, community college institutions, we have more than a thousand students in higher education in class, today, so that’s a big asset,” says Kelly. “The Carolina Core enables us to put a book cover around that story and tell it, in order that we may win future companies to the favor of central North Carolina.”
See how it all works in this edition of the Buckley Report.