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Think Regionally, Act Locally 1-24-17

Apple Inc. - Maiden, NC

 
Catawba County brands itself as “Charlotte’s Great Northwest” in much of our positioning.  The County has been very successful in developing a balance of new and traditional industry sectors, regional reach and access to the best of North Carolina’s outdoors.
 
Last week’s announcements by Apple and GKN Driveline further accentuate the need for our communities to determine what specific appeal they can make for targeted sectors and work toward developing assets that support those arguments.  To differentiate any community, from the 10,000 others around the United States, you must Think Regionally, Act Locally.
 

GKN Driveline - Maiden, NC

 
For example, the strength of the grid, cost and reliability of electricity in our region opened up the opportunity for data centers to be developed within Catawba and surrounding counties.  This differentiating condition, and the growth potential of stand-alone data centers in the US, allowed Catawba County to develop our Data Center Initiative years ago.  
 
Specifically, to convince the target sector we could facilitate their needs effectively and quickly, we: 
 
 
developed sites and parks specifically for data centers  
created collateral and a vanity website specific to this effort
hosted fam tours for national consultants that continue today  
joined organizations like 7x24 and other Mission Critical organizations.  
committed to expedite permits and put full time inspectors on construction sites
crafted a specific Data Center Incentives policy 
 
And it worked. Our policy of “making arguments that make good sense” to the prospect paid off in 2009 when Apple Inc. committed to spend at least $1B within 10 years in Maiden, creating 50 Apple-badged jobs and another 150 permanent on-site jobs.  Less than seven years later, they’ve spent $2.8 Billion, employ over 400, not including their current construction of buildings 4B and 5 and the grading of property in the northern reaches of their original site.
 
And it continues to work today.  Apple committed to spend at least another $1B last week, and is more than doubling their initial site footprint by the acquisition of an additional 238 acres.
 
Catawba County continues to try and differentiate ourselves by making very targeted “arguments that make good sense” in other sectors as well, including automotive supplier facilities and other sectors and GKN recognizes those efforts by their investment of over $232 Million and the creation of almost 400 jobs since 2014.
 
We’re working on other assets to bolster our arguments, including a landmark K-64 educational initiative designed to develop a workforce of the future in some unique ways.  
 
I’d love to see each County within Charlotte USA assess what their assets are and then design their recruitment strategies based on those assets and other differentiating factors. 
 
 
President
Catawba County Economic Development Corporation

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