MONROE – Union County has named its first industrial park, an indicator that economic development officials are ready to market the space.
Commissioners considered naming it Union County Industrial Park and Piedmont Innovation Park, opting for the latter option.
Chris Platé, executive director for Monroe-Union County Economic Development, said the name is a key way to differentiate an industrial park from others in the region.
Platé said the park’s first tenant, ATI Specialty Materials, offers innovation in everything they do.
“I would hope that a county as progressive and as positive as Union County would have an industrial park that matched that,” Commissioner Jerry Simpson said Aug. 5 as he declared his support for Piedmont Innovation Park.
Other commissioners followed suit, voting for the name.
The 330-acre industrial park off Goldmine Road gives Monroe-Union County Economic Development product to sell. The City of Monroe also purchased 155 acres for its third industrial park earlier in the fiscal year.
Economic developers have also targeted Waxhaw for a “virtual building,” which would expedite the permitting process for incoming companies.
“We’re trying to find innovative ways to work with some of the other towns,” Platé said. “They can’t necessarily afford to build a building like Monroe can, so we’re trying to come up with a virtual building.”
Monroe-Union County Economic Development generated $277 million in capital investment, which represented 462% of its annual goal. That was spread over 11 projects (four manufacturing, four agriculture, two logistics and one commercial).
This led to the announcement of 215 new jobs.
“We can not sell Union County from our desks,” Platé said. “We must sgo out and find those projects.”
Platé’s team went on recruiting trips to Alabama, California, Nevada and North Carolina, as well as air shows in London and Paris. In the coming year, they’ll head to California, Illinois, New York, Washington and Oregon, as well as Montreal, the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe.
“All that traveling is there to develop the pipeline with projects,” Platé said.
Economic developers hit 93% of their goal, filling that pipeline with 67 potential projects.
Two-thirds of those projects involved precision manufacturing. The rest encompassed agribusiness (18%), logistics (10%) and commercial (6%).
“Logistics should increase as the expressway becomes a viable asset for us to develop distribution and other things around that route way,” Plate said. “Commercial, we’ll always sort of lag behind that until we have a little bit more participation from the western side of the county.”