Dell may weigh many sites
By Marta Hummel and Nate DeGraff, Staff
News & Record
A Dell Inc. manufacturing plant may not be Forsyth County's prize
to lose, according to economic development officials.
Other local areas could be competing for the prize.
Published reports have pointed to Forsyth as the locus of the
world's largest computer maker's plans to expand if it chooses North
Golden LEAF Foundation, which is in charge of spending half of
the state's millions from the tobacco settlement, has said it would
consider giving $41 million over the next 10 years to train up to
1,900 people if the company opens a plant in the county.
Dell has made no comment on the reports.
Traditionally, the majority of companies thinking about expanding
look at a range of sites in the state before narrowing in on one,
said economic developers and the N.C. Department of Commerce. And
Golden LEAF said that just because it is considering the grant
request from Forsyth doesn't mean that the company has decided to
locate in Forsyth.
The head of the Economic Development Partnership in Greensboro,
Andy Burke, said Wednesday that Guilford County had also called
Golden LEAF about the project.
"We certainly called when we heard that Winston-Salem had
submitted a request," said Burke. He said the county decided against
filing an application because the money that Golden LEAF might
designate for Forsyth would be portable to any location throughout
"If a project went to Charlotte or Asheville (the money) would go
wherever it ended up," he said. He would not comment on whether
Guilford had contacted Dell or any other technology company.
Confidentiality agreements with clients prohibit the group from
talking about projects, he said.
The head of Golden LEAF, Valeria Lee, said, "I don't know where
the company is looking." She said she had heard the company was
focusing on four counties, reported to be Forsyth, Guilford,
Rockingham and Davidson. It has been reported that the company could
also be considering other locations outside the state.
Golden LEAF would consider grant proposals from other areas in
the state, Lee said.
The head of the Rockingham County Partnership for Economic and
Tourism Development, Lisa Perry, would not comment on whether the
group had contacted Golden LEAF regarding Dell, dubbed "Project
But she said the group has requested grants from the N.C.
Community College System for economic development initiatives.
It will give up to $2,500 per employee for training for the
project, said Larry Keen, vice president for economic and work force
It would not be the first time that multiple sites in the state
competed for a company. Citi Cards looked at multiple sites in the
Piedmont Triad before settling on a location in an unincorporated
part of Guilford County to build its call center.
Other factors point to the fact that Forsyth may not be the only
location the company is looking at. A spokeswoman for the N.C.
Department of Commerce said, "generally business leads come to us
"They tell us they need to be 30 minutes from an airport or a
port," said Lisa Weiner. "We try to broaden the scope a little bit
and then we contact the areas that would be a good fit."
She said occasionally a company will have contacted site
consultants or specific economic partnerships first, though.
If the company is considering other sites, Guilford has multiple
locations that could fit Dell's needs, real estate experts said.
Those sites could include Highwoods Properties' Enterprise Park on
Brigham Road in west Greensboro and Rock Creek Center near the
county's eastern edge.
The Carolina Corporate Center near Sedalia, home to the
soon-to-be-completed Citi Cards call center, could be another
option, experts said.
"You're basically looking at a 40-acre site," said Larry Gildea,
senior vice president and regional director for Liberty Property
Trust. "I'm not saying they're everywhere, but they're not that hard
Consultants who help companies choose sites for expansions said
clients usually start with a long list of communities before
narrowing to three or four finalists. The region's available labor
pool and cost of doing business are key factors during any
"The casual observer would think the actual physical site leads
the analysis, but it's to the contrary," said John H. Boyd,
president of The Boyd Co. Inc., a Princeton, N.J.-based site
selector that has worked with Compaq and Hewlett-Packard. "The
actual physical site, the acreage, comes much later in the process."
Unlike some other companies, Dell tends to do lots of
site-selection analysis with its own staff, Boyd said.
"Dell has a reputation of being very prudent and judicious in
their site selection process," Boyd said. "They rarely make
mistakes. They're very thorough."
Contact Marta Hummel at 373-7070 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Nate DeGraff at 373-7024 or email@example.com