f a driver were as dominant in NASCAR as Statesville-Mooresville is in economic development, the officials who run the sport would likely start building more challenging tracks.
For the North Carolina community about a 40-minute drive north of Charlotte, the test of overcoming a sluggish economy posed a challenge in 2009, but it was hardly enough to slow down the hard-charging area known as
For the second year in a row, Statesville-Mooresville has been named the No. 1 Micropolitan Area in the
How dominant is this
With 20 new or expanded plants in 2009, Statesville-Mooresville easily beat out
While most communities experienced declining project numbers last year, Statesville-Mooresville actually went the other way. Its corporate facility total climbed 18 percent from its 17 deals in 2008.
"We were not immune to the economic conditions of 2009," says Russell Rogerson, executive director of the Mooresville South Iredell Economic Development Corp. "The recession hit everyone. Nonetheless, we focused on what we can focus on — new investments and new jobs and assisting companies to help them compete. We have been able to build a diverse economic base in
During a down year for NASCAR and other racing organizations, Mooresville still landed six motorsports facility deals in 2009. "That says that motorsports is a big part of our economy and identity and will continue to be so," says Rogerson.
The largest of the race shop projects came from Kyle Busch Motorsports, which announced a $10-million investment that adds 85,000 sq. ft. (7,897 sq. m.) of headquarters and R&D space and creates 30 jobs.
Other motorsports facility investments in Mooresville included SK Motorsports ($4 million), Braun Motorsports ($4 million), CRP
"The motorsports community is diversifying into some new markets," Rogerson adds. "At Yates Precision Machining, part of the Roush Yates Engines team, they do very high-end precision machining of parts. That requires a high level of advanced manufacturing skill sets, and it translates well into other industries. That has enabled Yates to expand into military contracts and other markets."
Last year, Yates Precision Machining announced a $2-million manufacturing plant expansion that adds 30,000 sq. ft. (2,787 sq. m.) and four jobs in Mooresville.
Area Industrial Base Diversifies
Other events making headlines in
"That definitely received a great deal of media attention," says Rogerson. "And it ensures that motorsports will continue to be a key factor in our growth moving forward."
But that doesn't mean that Iredell's fortunes are tied solely to race shops, notes Rogerson. "We are a lot more than motorsports and the Lowe's corporate headquarters," he points out. "Those are two very good things to be known for, but we have other interesting companies that are doing some creative things."
Two of them are General Microcircuits and BestSweet Inc. General Microcircuits just completed a $2-million, 18,000-sq.-ft. (1,672-sq.-m.) expansion for circuit-board manufacturing, while BestSweet is a candy company that is branching out into over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. The firm is adding 40,000 sq. ft. (3,716 sq. m.) as part of a $6-million expansion.
Richard Zulman, CEO of BestSweet, tells Site Selection that he will add 35 employees once the new space is completed. "This is a very good location for our company," he says. "There is a good work force in the area, and it is very close to airports and major highways. Interstates 40, 77 and 85 all pass right by the area."
Zulman says BestSweet is expanding to accommodate "growth opportunities for our business. We manufacture confectionery candy, cough drops, lozenges, Rolaids soft-chew antacids and multi-vitamins in a chewy format. This expansion will allow us to make even more products for the health-care market."
The CEO cites other location factors as business advantages. "The economic developers here are very good and do whatever we ask to help," he says. "This area is also good for logistics. It is easy to get materials in and ship out our products. And it is a great area for worker training. We take advantage of offsite training at
Zulman also praises the area's quality of life. "This is a very nice place to live," he says. "I moved here from
Dave Dalton, executive vice president of sales and marketing and an owner of General Microcircuits, says that his company's 30 years of success in Mooresville are largely attributable to "the great work force that we have here."
"We are in the high-end electronics business. We assemble circuit boards," he says. "There has been a nice transfer in the area from textile jobs in the 1980s to electronics jobs now. Textiles were the number one industry in Mooresville back in 1980 when we started this business. There is not a single textile job remaining in the city today."
General Microcircuits employs 116 workers and continues to grow, says
Track Record Speaks for Itself
The other half of the No. 1 micro area's moniker —
"This is a consistently good place to be," says Mike Smith, executive director of the Greater Statesville Development Corp. "When you look at our track record over the last decade, especially when you consider how challenging the times are right now, it puts a premium on businesses finding a place that consistently performs."
Smith says that
Notable deals came from Piedmont Rubber Recycling and Trim Systems.
"We feel very good about both of these projects," says Smith. "
"The Trim Systems project shows our continued strength in the transportation equipment industry," Smith says. "They had several different operations around the country. They determined that
International investors like what they see in the area too. Talon Systems Inc., a furniture manufacturer based in
Talon sells its products to major retailers such as IKEA, Target, Sears, Lowe's and Home Depot. The
The company will occupy a 309,000-sq.-ft. (28,706-sq.-m.) facility that was vacated by the Canac Kitchens Division of Kohler. Talon will create 150 jobs over five years, with production starting this spring.
Talon President Derek Okada says the firm considered sites across the Southeast before narrowing the short list to
"We worked with our partners at the North Carolina Department of Commerce on that project," Smith says. "Talon looked at several different states and multiple locations in
The vacant facility became a prime magnet for Talon. "A large building with rail access less than one mile from Interstate 40, the site is only four miles from the intersection of I-77 and I-40," adds Smith. "The property is less than one hour from two international airports —
Brazilian Firm Ramping Up
Another international manufacturer, Providencia
The 215,000-sq.-ft. (19,974-sq.-m.) plant sits on 43 acres (17 hectares) in the
"In the past few quarters, we have noticed an increase in demand," said Herminio Freitas, CEO of Providencia, the largest producer of nonwoven fabrics in
Smith says the outlook for
The Larkin project by developer GS Carolina of
GS Carolina estimates that the development could generate 1,100 jobs within five years. Plans call for up to 5,000 housing units and 1.25 million sq. ft. (116,125 sq. m.) of commercial space.
With Larkin and other projects in the works, Smith says that 2010 should be even better for Statesville-Mooresville than 2009. "I still believe that we are just getting started," he says. "There are even better days ahead of us."