Pilot Mountain News

County board split on business sites

DOBSON — An economic development initiative saw passage by a slim margin, with county commissioners split 3-2.

At Monday evening’s meeting of the Surry County Board of Commissioners, board members voted to help pay to re-certify business sites in Mount Airy and Elkin.

“It is that time of year again to get the sites at Elkin Corporate Park and Piedmont Triad West certified once more,” wrote Todd Tucker, president of the Surry County Economic Development Partnership.

“I have an estimated cost of $6,500 for each of the sites,” added Tucker. “In the past, the county has split that cost with each municipality.”

County Manager Chris Knopf told county commissioners the process certifies that a location has access to necessary infrastructure, is zoned for business and meets other criteria for which a business might look when considering locating or relocating its operations.

Commissioner Larry Phillips said the certified sites are a need in today’s economic climate. Companies look for speed when considering where they locate their operations. The more quickly a business can put everything in place, the more quickly it can begin turning a profit.

“We need these certified sites,” Phillips told his four colleagues. “They’re important to the long-term economic interests of this county.”

“I want to see a return on the taxpayer investment,” said Commissioner Buck Golding, noting he has seen nothing happen at the Mount Airy site in the multiple years the county has helped to fund the site’s certification.

Phillips said he believes part of the problem at the Mount Airy industrial park is granite inhibits the ability to build there.

“The fact of the matter is that this is the way economic development is done,” explained Phillips. “Developers look for these certified sites, and we have to have them if we want to compete with 99 other counties.”

“I’d just like to see performance,” answered Golding.

“I’m not one of these with a ‘build it and they will come’ mentality,” added Commissioner Van Tucker.

Phillips challenged the two dissenters, however.

“Until I see another plan for economic development, I like mine better,” said Phillips.

Commissioner Larry Johnson noted the allocation was only $6,500 to pay for a process which could land a company in Surry County.

With board Chairman Eddie Harris joining Phillips and Johnson in supporting the measure, the motion to allocate the funds was passed.

By Andy Winemiller

awinemiller@mtairynews.com

Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.