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UNC study to develop business-recruitment strategy for Siler City

Posted Tuesday, May 12, 2009

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Siler City, NC — Siler City officials are receiving strategic help from the Carolina Center for Competitive Economies to develop and implement a marketing initiative to recruit new companies and jobs thanks to a grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation aimed to help the city reverse its economic decline.

Seven plant closures and one plant layoff have cost Siler City 1,550 jobs since 2005. The impact of those losses has been felt throughout the local economy. The Golden LEAF grant enables the center to help Siler City and the Chatham County Economic Development Corp. (EDC) identify companies best suited for the city's business assets and encourage them to locate there and create jobs.

"Siler City is one of many communities desperately needing jobs in these difficult economic times," says Siler City Town Manager Joel Brower. "We're so pleased Golden LEAF chose to fund this important opportunity to attract businesses to Siler City and that the Center for Competitive Economies can continue the important work it has done for the county."

The center is part of the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, the economic-development arm of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Kenan-Flagler Business School.

The Siler City initiative builds on the center's 2008 cluster study for Chatham County, which identified seven growing industries in which the county has a competitive advantage for business recruitment and 1,400 company prospects in those industries.

For the new project, center researchers will narrow the list to companies that are well matched for Siler City's available industrial land and buildings. They will develop a marketing strategy and materials targeting companies and industry sectors that have located in the types of facilities Siler City has to offer and have used a workforce similar to that of western Chatham County. A team from UNC, Siler City and the Chatham EDC will then contact a select list of prospects to learn more about their industry needs and relocation interests.

"This new marketing initiative is an important step in remedying the economic challenges facing the city," says Dianne Reid, president of the Chatham County EDC. "By building on the work that's already been done, we hope to identify prospective employers that can take advantage of the assets Siler City has to offer growing companies."

Siler City's competitive business assets include the Central Carolina Business Campus, a new business park in Siler City, plus more than 1.2 million square feet of vacant industrial, warehouse and commercial space, and an excess supply of water freed for industrial and processing use due to the closure of previous industrial facilities that had high water demand.

"We have a good-quality labor pool, available land and a constant water supply," says Brower. "In addition, the expansion of Turner Reservoir will be completed in June and provide water and sewer capacity to any prospective employers."

"The Foundation supports this team's approach to create a successful marketing strategy for recruiting business and industry to Siler City," says Dan Gerlach, president of Golden LEAF. "The community is taking an aggressive approach to build on its strengths to grow out of the economic downturn."

The Center for Competitive Economies works with clients to identify and address economic-development opportunities. The Golden LEAF Foundation helps tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and/or rural communities transition to more prosperous and stable economies. Together, the organizations are uniquely positioned to provide expertise to Siler City, says Gerlach.

The project is scheduled for completion by the end of 2009.

 
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UNC study to develop business-recruitment strategy for Siler City
Dianne Reid, president of the Chatham County EDC.
photo by Gene Galin
 
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