Duke Energy eyes Chocowinity

Published 7:50 pm Friday, April 18, 2014

The 246-acre Chocowinity Industrial Park has been picked by Duke Energy to participate in the 2014 Site Readiness Program. The program is a six-month assessment to prepare a location for potential industrial development.

Duke Energy’s Site Readiness Program is expected to bring new jobs into the area with the utility company, along with Beaufort County to market the site nationwide to businesses across the country, who are looking to expand or relocate.

The Site Readiness program wants communities to get ready for potential news jobs in industry. Duke Energy wants them to compete with other regions around the country for jobs. Duke Energy feels new jobs and industry has a multiplying effect on communities.

“We look forward to the master plan the Duke Energy Site Readiness experts will develop for us. Attracting new industry is a competitive business. We need every advantage we can get,” said Bob Heuts, director of Beaufort County Economic Development, in a press release.

Duke Energy’s program is set up to assist communities served by the utility company. The Site Readiness Program’s design is to create new investments in Beaufort County.

“When we are studying a site we are doing three things,” Lisa Parrish media relations contact, said. “First, we hire a nationally known consulting firm (McCallum Sweeney), secondly, we inventory the site – does it have access to rails, power, sewer, gas and where are the closest transportation arteries. Lastly, we take all the information we gathered during that six-month period and we share that with county leaders so they can use it as a tool to attract business.”

The Chocowinity Industrial Park has a 12-inch natural gas line, a main line for the Norfolk Southern Railroad, and the power supply needed. The proposed area also has access to U.S. Highway 17 and the Pamlico River.

“We choose the areas that have the best chance of industrial development,” Parrish said. “We work with them (local government) to assess the areas. This is about getting an area ready for industry and it serves as a positive because it can only enhance the tax base of an area. It can only increase employment.”

The sixth-month assessment of the area will be done by the consulting firm of McCallum Sweeney, who is scheduled to present recommendations to Chocowinity leaders by the end of summer.

Over the last 10 years, Site Selection magazine has named the Duke Energy development strategy to its “Top Utilities in Economic Development” national list. In 2013, the publication listed them fourth.

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