RANDLEMAN — Randleman is on the way to getting its third large business park.
On Sept. 6, the Randolph County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to participate in an economic development project which will be known as the I-74 Industrial Center. The 160-acre site is located at the interchange of Interstate 74 and U.S. 311 in Sophia and within the City of Randleman’s greater planning jurisdiction.
Kevin Franklin, Randolph County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) president, said the site has been on EDC’s radar for a number of years. Two years ago, a developer indicated that the property owner was ready to move forward with a business park project.
Franklin said the 160 acres is part of a larger 228-acre parcel. I-74 bisects the property, leaving over 60 acres on the west side of the interstate, he said. That could be developed at a future date.
Franklin said the site has plenty going in its favor. In addition to excellent access to major roads, the land is largely flat with only one stream on the property. There are no environmental concerns. Fiber optic cables already run in the area as does access to electrical utilities and natural gas.
The development of the site will involve the coordination of Randleman, Asheboro and the county government. Randleman is expected to provide the water to the site and pay for the water infrastructure, said Randleman City Manager William Johnson. Randleman has allocated $75,000 to do the preliminary engineering design work. The city has contracted with The Wooten Company in Raleigh to do the design and to bid out the construction, he said. Johnson said at some point in the future, the site will be annexed into Randleman.
“We are really excited about the project,” he said. “We are looking for big fish. We know that when EDC goes out to solicit prospective clients, companies are looking for a site that is ready to go.”
Asheboro will provide some of the water and the sewage treatment but Randleman will be paying for the sewer infrastructure, Johnson said. Asheboro city officials said no money has been allocated by the city yet but the project is still in the very early stages. Action is expected at a later date.
For the county’s part, County Manager Hal Johnson said the county commissioners’ resolution earlier this month will allow Randolph County to purchase approximately 30 acres of property in the proposed industrial park, said County Manager Hal Johnson. This will allow the county to contract with the N.C. Department of Transportation (DOT) for preliminary engineering and permitting for the road improvements that will be necessary for development and marketing of the property. He said, the resolution also authorizes the county to apply for $41 million from Utility Account Financing Grants from the U.S. Department of Commerce that will help offset the costs of extending sewer services to the property.
Additionally, Johnson, said the county will enter into an agreement with DOT in the amount of $50,000 to begin the engineer design services for the alignment of Wall Brothers Road. The cost of the roadwork is about $2.1 million, however the county will be reimbursed by the state at a rate of $10,000 per job that goes into the industrial park.
He said, commissioners also adopted an ordinance to establish a project for the design and construction of sewer line extension from Asheboro to Randleman to the new 1-74 Industrial Center. Construction and engineering will total approximately $6,862,000, with a $1 million grant from N.C. Department of Commerce.
Like Randleman, the county has contracted with The Wooten Company for the design work, Johnson said. This project will be blended with the county’s larger goal of developing a 5-10 year master plan for growth in the county, he said.
Pointe South Business Park
This isn’t Randleman’s first foray into the construction of a business park. The first effort was the development of Pointe South Business Park, a private effort coordinated by group of private investors that included local developers Stanley Smith and Vernon Wilson, according to Greg Patton, Randleman planning director.
This was in the days prior to the organization of the Randolph County EDC which was formed in 1985. The site is located south of downtown Randleman behind the Pointe South Shopping Center.
Working as the Central Industrial Piedmont Corporation, the developers’ first occupant was Hughes Furniture in January 1984, Patton said. At that time, the Goodyear Company had just opened its wire facility on Pineview Road. Patton said investors saw the potential in having a business park nearby to support secondary industries that would be attracted to the area because of the wire plant.
Goodyear has long since left the county. However, Pointe South Business Park has continued growing strong. In addition to the Hughes warehouses, the site is home to commercial businesses that include Linear Solutions, Millikan Engineering Group, Commonwealth Steel Company, Moulder Techniques, Superior Mechanical and Randolph Boiler & Mechanical.
West Randleman Business Park
Randleman’s other business park was the brain child of EDC. Franklin said the initial purchase of almost 51 acres of property for the park took place in 2000. In 2004, just over 17 acres were sold for construction of the Rheem Manufacturing distribution facility.
The remainder of the park property was purchased by the EDC with two additional transactions – one in 2004 and the balance in 2008, he said. In 2013, the EDC donated an acre to Randolph County for construction of a new ambulance base. In December 2019, another 11 acres was purchased from the EDC for expansion of the Rheem facility, and construction began in early 2020. The EDC still owns approximately 24 acres of land in the park.
Franklin said with all of the focus on the Greensboro-Randolph megasite and Toyota, it would be easy to think of the I-74 Industrial Center as just a satellite for that larger project. This is not the case, he said.
“We’ve had several inquiries about the I-74 Industrial Center,” he said. “Some of them are related to the Toyota battery plant but most of them are not.”
Hal Johnson is in agreement. He said the county’s interests in helping to attract the kinds of companies that will provide Randolph County citizens with high paying jobs extends beyond the benefits that come with the Toyota battery plant.
“I know that everyone is rightly excited about the positive impacts of the Toyota megasite development,” he said,” however, economic development opportunities that will be available as a result of water and sewer at the I-74 site will be a positive stimulus for future growth in this area of Randolph County.”