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Duke Energy has selected five properties in North Carolina for participation in its 2019 Site Readiness Program to enhance the readiness of the sites for business and industrial development. One of those sites is in Cumberland County.

The Site Readiness Program has helped prepare properties that have won 18 major projects in North Carolina since the program started in 2005, resulting in more than 5,100 new jobs and nearly $6.1 billion in capital investment, according to the utility.

Through the program, Duke Energy identifies high-potential sites and partners with county officials and local economic development professionals to develop a strategy for getting the site fully ready to market to industrial projects, a news release said.

“Economic development is a team sport and we are a key position player – working with many local and regional partners throughout the economic development process to achieve success,” said Stu Heishman, Duke Energy’s vice president of economic development. “We have a specific focus on site readiness, industrial recruitment and working together with our state and local partners. The Site Readiness Program is a great tool for communities across the Carolinas to help close deals.”

The Cumberland County site is located off N.C. 24 on a 285-acre property near Fayetteville. It is located near the intersection of Highway 24 and I-95. The site is mostly cleared and is ideal for industrial or distribution customers desiring quick interstate access.

“The Site Readiness program has been incredibly valuable to our organization,” said Robert Van Geons, president and CEO of the Fayetteville Cumberland County Economic Development Corporation. “In order to compete for and win job creating projects, we need to mitigate our client’s risk, effectively communicate our value proposition, and exceed expectations with regards to competence and preparedness. This program allows us to have a third-party expert look at our community, ensuring we are ready to maximize each opportunity that comes before us.”

Another site is in New Hanover County. The Blue Clay Road site is a 120-acre, undeveloped tract owned by the county. The property is about 4.5 miles from I-40, adjacent to a CSX rail line and in close proximity to the Wilmington International Airport and Port of Wilmington. At full build-out the site could support up to 800,000 square feet. Full infrastructure is expected to be online by July 2020.

Other sites selected are in Carteret County, Rockingham County and Rutherford County.

Duke Energy worked with major site selection firms to evaluate the sites. Based on consultant recommendations, Duke Energy will collaborate with county leaders and local economic development professionals to develop an improved strategy for marketing these sites. Additionally, each site is eligible to apply for a $10,000 matching grant from Duke Energy to help prepare it to attract projects.

“Identifying and improving sites for future economic growth is a critical part of every successful economic development strategy,” said Jeannette Goldsmith, vice president of SDG, a site selection firm based in Greenville, S.C. “We were pleased to be a part of the Duke Energy Site Readiness Program in 2019 and enjoyed working with regional economic development leaders on evaluating their sites and helping them prepare to attract capital investment and create new jobs.”

After each site’s state of readiness has advanced, Duke Energy’s business recruitment team strategically markets each of them nationwide to companies looking to expand or relocate their operations.

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