Monday, October 31, 2011

Statesville 'very well suited' for food industry

By: Bethany Fuller

Statesville is positioned to be a player in the food industry, according to one of the senior vice presidents at Charlotte Regional Partnership.

Former executive director for the Mooresville-South Iredell Economic Development Corp., Russell Rogerson, told members of the Statesville Regional Development --- formerly known as the Greater Statesville Development Corp. --- Committee of 100 that many food manufacturing companies are looking for locations with good transportation access and proximity to large populations.

“I think Statesville is very well suited for it,” said Rogerson, senior vice president of economic development services at CRP. “They tend to locate where the product is. I believe it’s one of those areas that is going to continue to maintain momentum.”

The food industry has a variety of markets that fit into the Charlotte area, he said, such as niche, ethnic and organic foods.

Rogerson said there is an increased focus within the industry on trends and tracking food products, which is why manufacturers are able to track down the source of a salmonella or E. coli outbreak, for example, so quickly.

A good work force and access to utilities is a major factor in recruiting food manufacturers or distribution centers, Rogerson said. From his time in Mooresville, he said, he knows how helpful Mitchell Community College can be in recruiting new industry.

“I you can’t prove to them that we can train employees to perform, you won’t get to the starting line,” Rogerson said.

Iredell County already has a number of food manufacturers and distribution sites, and Rogerson said potential new businesses are going to want to go out and talk to them about what its like to do business in Statesville.

North Carolina is home to Food Lion, Fresh Market, Lowes Foods and Harris Teeter among others, he said.

Some of the selling points Rogerson described for the 16-county area within the Charlotte Regional Partnership are access to trucking companies, the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, an agriculture base to pull products from and the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis.

As the campus continues to develop and attract research projects from various colleges, Rogerson said, it will help the larger message that the Charlotte Regional Partnership, which serves 16 counties in North Carolina and South Carolina, shares with site selection consultants and businesses.

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