Kerr-Tar Region, N.C. - County leaders from Franklin, Granville, Vance and Warren counties signed on the dotted line Dec. 13 to officially endorse a historic Interlocal Agreement to develop a specialized industry park in the Kerr-Tar Region of North Carolina.
Regional officials and supporters celebrated the landmark agreement at a special event held on the campus of Vance-Granville Community College, which is located between the two parcels of land in Vance and Granville counties that will be developed for the park.
"We have achieved a regional collaboration of historic proportions," Vance County Commissioner Danny Wright told more than 100 business and community leaders assembled for the celebration. Wright chairs the newly formed Kerr-Tar Regional Economic Development Corporation, the nonprofit that will develop and operate the park. "This model of collaboration is making news around the country and around the globe. We believe that this region's best days are just ahead."
North Carolina State Treasurer Richard Moore, an Oxford native and Vance County resident, commended the efforts of the four counties and recognized the work of state representatives who worked to secure a $4 million grant from the General Assembly to develop the park.
"Today is a very important day," said Moore. "It's a tremendous source of personal pride for me to see this region decide to do this together and collaborate."
N.C. Rep James Crawford, who chairs the N.C. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, and members of the region's legislative delegation, presented a ceremonial $4 million check to Wright for the project. Rep. Crawford, Rep. Lucy Allen, Rep. Michael Wray and Sen. Doug Berger all worked to secure state funding for the project.
"This is a fantastic step forward for our region," said Crawford. "It's about collaboration and teamwork. It's an exciting time, and I look forward to seeing real progress."
Former N.C. Governor James Holshouser, whose firm, the Sanford Holshouser Business Development Group, led the process to select the site for the park, commended the four counties for setting an example for the rest of North Carolina.
"People all over the state - indeed, all over the country - will be watching," Holshouser said. "The state owes you a deep debt of gratitude for taking the leap. Today is a historic day, not just for this region, but for all of North Carolina."
The regional economic development project, called the Kerr-Tar Hub, is the first-ever multi-county collaboration to create an industrial park in North Carolina. The Hub project aims to create an enhanced mid-tech park in one county that will create jobs and attract business investment for all four.
Representatives from the four counties worked together to create the Interlocal Agreement that spells out how the counties will share in both costs and revenues to develop and operate the Hub. The agreement was approved by all four county boards of commissioners during public meetings in October and November.
This type of regional collaboration is unprecedented, said Dr. Michael Luger, director of the Carolina Center for Competitive Economies, part of the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Luger's team conducted the original feasibility study for the Hub concept and is currently developing a market analysis for the project.
"We've found no examples of four counties that have joined forces to sign an Interlocal Agreement with this kind of longevity and dedication," said Luger. "It is indeed historic, and it sets these four counties apart from thousands of other counties across the country. This is the result of vision, leadership, commitment and hard work."
Central to the Kerr-Tar Hub model is the role of Vance-Granville Community College, which will provide workforce training and education programs for businesses that locate in the Hub and workers across the region. College President Randy Parker said the college looks forward to playing an instrumental role in the Hub's development.
"We're excited about being at the center of the Hub," said Parker. "We're dedicated to providing state-of-the art workforce training and education for any company coming into our service area."
With financial support from the General Assembly and the Interlocal Agreement signed, the Kerr-Tar Economic Development Corporation is now moving forward on securing options for the land that will be developed as the Hub and to develop a marketing strategy to attract investment.
For more information, visit www.kerrtarhub.org or contact Neil Mallory, executive director of the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments, administrator for the Hub project, at (252) 436-2040.