EDC inventory tour reveals need for fresh solutions
Many of the large, vacant business sites in Davidson County are not suitable for new development, a point emphasized by a recent tour by the Davidson County Economic Development Commission to promote the development of an industrial park.
Representatives from the Lexington and Thomasville city councils, as well as Davidson County Commissioners, on July 11 toured buildings for lease or sale. Steve Googe, executive director of the Davidson County Economic Development Commission, used the tour to show the condition of the available inventory.
"Part of my Board wanted to do this as an awareness tour for elected officials to help them see the type of product we have to market," Googe said. "I guess our goal was more of an education process. A lot of people look at the buildings as they ride through town and say there must be hundreds of buildings that are empty.
“They're buildings people just don’t want to look at," he added.
Because the sites are not suitable for businesses which inquire about Davidson County, Googe has lobbied for an industrial park off Interstate 85 in the Linwood community.
In May, commissioners voted to allow Googe to proceed with plans for the proposed industrial park project. The vote was not unanimous. Commissioner Todd Yates cast one of three dissenting votes and believes alternative proposals should be discussed in lieu of building an entirely new facility.
"I’m still not sold on the industrial park," Yates said. "Riding around Thomasville, I’d like to think we need some other form of investment — let the county and cities invest in some properties and build some buildings."
Although he does not encourage the project, Yates is well aware of the declining state of some of the county's largest sites. Marching through mold, mildew, broken glass and even bird feathers, officials witnessed evidence that industries have long since departed from county buildings.
Fred McClure, chairman of the Board of Commissioners, was not pleased with what he saw, but did appreciate the efforts of the EDC to reveal several contributing factors of the difficulty of introducing new business. He was one of four who voted in favor of the industrial park in May.
"I think it's a good idea what we're doing," McClure said of the inventory tour. "We've had a lot of folks talk about all the buildings available in the county, and we can see there are not a lot of buildings available."
Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or firstname.lastname@example.org.