Community leaders in Franklin, Granville, Person, Vance, and Warren counties in North Carolina are collaborating on a bold initiative to bring 21st-century jobs and prosperity to their region.
Their project, dubbed the “Kerr-Tar Hub,” is a multi-county initiative to create a technology center, or “hub,” that will serve as a magnet for business investment in the five rural counties in the northern tier of the Research Triangle region. The goal is to spark economic growth and raise the standard of living for all of the region’s citizens.
“The hub will link the combined affordable assets of five rural counties to the technology centers of the Research Triangle,” says Rick Seekins of the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments (COG). The COG is staffing and supporting the initiative.
“It will give our five-county area a marketable product that none of us can afford to create alone,” says economic developer Allen Kimball of Warren County.
The hub will target innovative and growing companies making advanced products. It will include training services, as well as facilities and networks to help targeted firms remain globally competitive and continue to grow. Jobs created in the hub will offer attractive wages for a variety of local technicians and others ready to train for the needed skills. The hub will provide businesses access to the combined assets and reasonable costs of the Region K (the area served by the Kerr-Tar COG), as well as linkages to the Research Triangle Park, Raleigh-Durham International Airport and other regional amenities. The hub also will require that costs and revenues are shared across several county lines for the first time ever in North Carolina.
Feasibility Study: A Road Map for Prosperity
The Kerr-Tar Hub project is an outgrowth of a study, conducted by The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Office of Economic Development (OED) for the Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP), to determine the feasibility of creating a series of “mini-hubs” to stimulate investment in rural areas of the 13-county Research Triangle Region. The study, completed in March 2003 with funding from the Golden LEAF, recommended the creation of two or three “mid-tech parks” in the region to encourage spin-off development from the Research Triangle Region’s most successful industrial clusters.
Positioned between traditional industrial parks and research parks, these “mid-tech parks” would accommodate businesses that use skilled labor to make advanced products.
They would target companies in particular industrial clusters that employ skilled labor to make or deliver advanced products or services. They might include processing, manufacturing and back-office activities and attract spin-off businesses from research parks, such as Research Triangle Park and Centennial Campus, seeking less expensive space and appropriate labor.
The hubs would offer land at reasonable costs, traditional park infrastructure (such as access roads, utilities and shell buildings) plus special enhancements for their clusters, such as meeting and conference facilities; advanced information technology; laboratories, incubators or testing facilities; training, marketing, regulatory and technical services; or special location incentives.
Kerr-Tar Response: Create a Hub for the Five-County Region
Community leaders in the Kerr-Tar Region recognized the significant growth opportunity a hub would offer these northernmost five counties of the Research Triangle Region. They knew that their history of effective multi-county collaboration offered a distinct competitive advantage to successfully developing such a park.