Kerr-Tar Region, N.C. - The four counties at the helm of the Kerr-Tar Hub have approved a landmark Interlocal Agreement that spells out how the multi-jurisdictional economic development effort will operate.
Representatives from Franklin, Granville, Vance and Warren counties worked together to create the agreement, which was approved by county commissions during public meetings in October and November.
"This is a major step forward in our efforts to develop an industry hub that will attract jobs and investment to the Kerr-Tar Region," said Danny Wright, chairman of the Kerr-Tar Regional Economic Development Board, the newly formed nonprofit corporation that will own and develop the hub.
"A multi-county industrial park is unprecedented in North Carolina," he said. "It's exciting to see our four counties come together to collaboratively pursue an economic development effort that will bring significant benefits to our region. This agreement strikes the balance of protecting each county's interests, while establishing a framework for collaboration."
Regional officials applauded leaders of the four counties for their vision and commitment to creating jobs and opportunity in their communities.
"Industry prospects want to see people working together, being innovative. They want to see a region that is really making itself stand out, with the kind of workforce and cooperation and all the things you are working on right now," said former Gov. James B. Hunt, who led the task force that developed the regional competitiveness strategy, called "Staying on Top: Winning the Job Wars of the Future." That plan called for the creation of "mini-hubs" throughout the 13-county Research Triangle Region, which includes the Kerr-Tar counties, as an innovative strategy to create jobs in rural parts of the region. Kerr-Tar officials used the region's research on mini-hubs as the basis for developing the Kerr-Tar Hub.
"The rest of North Carolina has its eyes on your region," said former Gov. James E. Holshouser Jr. of the Sanford Holshouser Law Firm. Holshouser is special adviser to the Research Triangle Regional Partnership, which directs the regional Staying on Top strategy. Holshouser's firm conducted the evaluation of sites proposed for the Kerr-Tar Hub.
"Doing this together as a region is going to take the best of all of you," Holshouser said. "But this is a tremendous effort that is going to benefit this part of the state more than anything I've seen in my lifetime."
North Carolina Commerce Secretary Jim Fain said: "The Kerr-Tar Hub is an innovative and pioneering rural development. I salute the leaders of this promising effort who will help develop a new approach to economic development in the state."
The Kerr-Tar Hub is a four-county effort to create a technology center that will attract business investment to the region. Recently, r regional officials created the nonprofit Kerr-Tar Regional Economic Development Corporation, which will own and develop four Hub sites in the region.
According to the Interlocal Agreement, the four counties will share equal representation in the corporation. Twelve representatives (three from each of the four counties) have been named to the board of directors. Those 12 are recruiting three at-large members who can bring particular expertise and experience in rural economic development. Billy Ray Hall, director of the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center, is the first at-large appointee to be named.
The Interlocal Agreement explicitly defines the role of the nonprofit corporation, which will manage all facets of hub site development, including property acquisition, project management and maintenance, fund raising and distribution of revenues to the four counties. In addition, the agreement spells out how the four counties will share in both costs and revenues. The four counties will pool resources to get the project off the ground. Eventually, the nonprofit will be sustained by the extra taxes gleaned from site improvements and increased property valuations. The agreement also establishes a series of check and balances, in addition to fiscal oversight, to ensure that the interests of each of the four counties are well protected.
With the Interlocal Agreement approved, the corporation board is moving forward with next steps, including the development of a marketing strategy to attract industry targets. The board has created four subcommittees to pursue various aspects of hub development: Finance, Land Acquisition, Grants/Appropriations and Marketing.
For more information on the Hub project, visit http://www.kerrtarhub.org/ or contact Neil Mallory, executive director of the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments, (252) 436-2040.