City officials: Larkin development will generate thousands of jobs
Editor's note: This story has been updated
By HALEY JONES
A once-stalled project off Interstate 77 at Exit 45 is now poised to become “the region’s hub for industrial and advanced manufacturing and e-commerce,” the City of Statesville announced at a press conference on Friday.
The Larkin Regional Commerce Park has been a decade in the making, beginning in 2007 as a proposed residential and commercial development project. Then the recession hit, and the project was moved to the back burner … until now.
“The enthusiasm has resurfaced, interest in the property has skyrocketed, and the economy has improved,” Mayor Cost Kutteh said. “The city is resolute in its desire to make Larkin work.”
During Friday’s press conference, developers spoke often of the public-private partnership between the city and Greenfield Partners, Barrow Street, The Keith Corporation, Scott Development Group, and LandDesign. The partnership depends on local leadership, infrastructure, workforce, and site location.
Through heavy involvement of the City of Statesville and the Statesville Regional Development Corporation, the project will now move forward, incorporating 750,000 square feet of commercial/retail property and 5 million square feet of industrial space. The property will bring over $3.428 million a year in property taxes to the county and $2.9 million a year in property tax to the City of Statesville. This number does not even begin to account for the taxes on water, power, employment or other expenses.
“If you come to the Charlotte area and want to do business, Statesville has your corner on the market,” said Mayor Pro Tem Michael Johnson, who along with council member William Morgan, worked to keep the project alive. “And today, that corner is called Larkin Regional Commerce Park.”
Statesville has already been undergoing a series of development projects.
Improvements are close to completion on both Interstate 40 and Interstate 77 to reduce congestion and improve transportation mobility and traffic safety. The development and expansion of the Statesville Regional Airport continues to accommodate larger, regional jets that can handle passenger and freight services, as well as general aviation clients. Direct access to the airport will be created on I-77 via exit 45.
And now, Larkin Regional Commerce Park will be added to that list of developments.
What will Statesville leaders need to focus on to be ready for the new development?
“The most crucial development of any business proposition is workforce,” Johnson said. “We recognize workforce development as a critical issue, particularly for advanced manufacturing, especially when competing in the sixth largest tech job market in America.”
Johnson spoke of working with Mitchell Community College and surrounding community colleges to train employees for the over 3,000 jobs that Larkin Regional Commerce Park will provide.
“If you can think it, we can train them, and they can make it,” Johnson said.
Jobs will become available over a span of development in industrial, advanced manufacturing, technology and e-commerce sectors. The completed market value of the commerce park will be $650 million.
“We have the optimum spot to do business,” Johnson said. “Statesville truly is where it all comes together.”
Both the city and Larkin Regional Commerce Park developers will move forward to develop appropriate zoning and restrictions for the property. The park will be architecturally controlled and the Keith Corporation has provided a drawing to demonstrate its intentions for high quality construction.
So what businesses will occupy the commerce park?
According to the Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce President David Bradley, no specific businesses have inquired simply because Statesville has just now announced the project. However, Bradley insists that Larkin Regional Commerce Park will be a venture businesses are interested in.
Larkin Regional Commerce Park developers will work with the City of Statesville, Statesville Regional Development and N.C. Commerce officials to recruit tenants for the property.
Commercial businesses, hotels, restaurants, retail and merchant space are all expected to fill the commerce park, making Larkin Regional “one of the largest concentrations of class A industrial developments in N.C. and the Southeastern United States,” he said.
Elected officials were also present at the announcement, including U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, U.S. Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, and N.C. Rep. Rena Turner.
Tillis and Turner were very supportive of the project offering their help in any way possible. Both officials spoke of the growth this project would bring to the state.
“It’s been a pleasure to represent our county and Statesville for seven years and learn about this project from a long time ago, and watch it develop,” Foxx said. “Those of us in the public sector live for moments like this where you see people come together. I do think that Statesville is a wonderful role model for other places in the county where people will come together and work to achieve the greater good.”