ASHEBORO — If you build it, industries will come.
That was the thinking when the city and county partnered to extend New Century Drive to connect with Veterans Loop Road in south Asheboro.
The 1,900-foot extension is done, which opens up building lots with quick access to Interstate 73/74.
“It makes a true interstate business park,” Mayor David Smith said during the July meeting of the Asheboro City Council last week. “This opens up some land with easy access right to the interstate.”
New Century Drive, which passes in front of the Randolph County Office Building off McDowell Road and the new 911/EMS Center, used to dead-end behind the Randolph County Jail. Now it connects with Veterans Loop Road near PEMMCO Manufacturing Inc., a precision machining operation that specializes in the automotive, transportation and industrial equipment industries.
More than $440,000 in grants funded by the N.C. Department of Commerce and the N.C. Rural Center, with matches by Asheboro and Randolph County, were used to extend public water and sewer service from the jail to the site.
Before the road extension, there was property near PEMMCO to develop, but it was not easy to get to: From Interstate 73/74, one had travel about a half mile on McDowell Road, turn right, drive about a quarter of a mile, turn onto Southmont Drive, and then drive a little more than a quarter of a mile to the long and winding Veterans Loop Road.
Smith said he once gave directions to Veterans Loop to a man interested in a building site. The man later told him that he almost never found the property.
Since New Century Drive intersects McDowell Road within 200 feet of an off-ramp of the interstate, it’s now less than a five-minute drive to the same location — and about 60 acres of land ready for development.
The city will maintain the road. The project included installation of a second driveway into the jail parking lot.
The city and county agreed to split the cost of about $280,000 over two budget cycles, with the county’s share coming from an economic development fund, set up as part of the county’s Strategic Plan, from leasing the Great Oak Regional Landfill to Waste Management. The city used money that had been earmarked as an economic incentive payout for Post Consumer Brands (formerly MOM Brands) when the cereal manufacturer did not meet a required hiring target in 2016.
Having the building sites available with ready access to public water and sewer and public utilities “puts us in the game” to recruit business and industry, Smith said. “In the economic development world, many times they want to be on the highway.”