Raleigh Road draws concern of EDC board

Jul. 10, 2013 @ 06:35 PM

Raleigh Road businesses, and mainly the lack thereof, drew the attention of the Henderson-Vance County Economic Development Commission board meeting Wednesday morning.

John Foster said attention needs to be directed to thoroughfare, which he described as “the main avenue into Henderson.” He said the road was devastated by the number of businesses that have moved out.

“Good properties look bad when they’re vacant,” he said.

Foster suggested the commission form a group to assess vacant properties in the county for possible uses. Saying the county can’t depend on outside help, he added, “We need growth from within. We’ve got to make it happen.”

Bob Herford said shell buildings are an asset, but he suggested that small buildings are more likely to be filled by new tenants than large buildings.

Chairman Sam Watkins distributed copies of a recent article from The News & Observer describing the plight of rural counties.

“I think it’s essential that we let people know about what we’ve got in Triangle North,” Watkins said.

The board also discussed at length the uncertainty about the status of economic development at the state level.

In recent weeks, state officials and legislators have discussed the possibility of reorganizing the N.C. Department of Commerce and turning over some functions to a state-private partnership.

Gov. Pat McCrory has said he wants to restructure the agency.

Some legislators have questioned whether incentives to attract businesses into the state will still be needed in light of changes that are being made in the state’s tax system.

The uncertainty “leaves us up in the air,” said board member Tom Church.

Economic Development Director Stuart Litvin said there is great uncertainty on the staff at the Department of Commerce because of the reorganization plans.

Litvin also reported on activities during June and July, including marketing activities, visits and meetings. He said the recently passed Strategic Mobility Formula, for determining how transportation funds are spent, “will result in most money going to urban areas.”

Litvin said 51 people were already registered for the July 18 Manufacturing Works event, which will be held at Vance-Granville Community College. The event is sponsored by the Institute for Emerging Issues at N.C. State University and the economic development offices in Vance, Warren and Franklin counties.

In an election of officers for the coming year, Watkins was re-elected chairman. Also re-elected were Paul Harris as vice chairman and Andrea Harris as secretary/treasurer.

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.