As I thought about what to write in today’s post, I realized I’ve spent the last seven weeks talking about various things I’ve done in Granville County (GC), but I haven’t actually talked about the county itself. Let’s fix that!
I knew very little about GC before I interviewed for this internship. I knew it was in the northern part of the state, the population was roughly 60,000, and there was a Revlon plant here. That’s all true, but thanks to my booklet project, I’ve learned so much more about everything GC has to offer.
The booklet I’ve been working on, as I’ve stated before, is designed to provide readers with information from both economic development (ED) and service-oriented perspectives. The information included is beneficial for businesses that may be interested in locating to the area as well as for people who want to learn more about their county. I’ve had very little exposure to economic development in academic or professional settings, so figuring out what business leaders are looking for is all new to me, especially when it comes to a rural North Carolina county.
As I’ve learned, economic development involves several factors. It’s policy, resources, standard of living, expansion of existing and introduction of new businesses, and education, just to name a few. GC has some major things working in its favor. First, location. Granville is about 40 minutes outside of the Research Triangle Park, one of the fastest growing and most economically competitive research parks in the country. The close proximity provides direct access to some of the most innovative minds in the world, opening the door for potential partnerships and collaborations.
Second, existing industry. GC is home to more than 900 national and international companies and some of the largest manufacturing plants in the United States. There is industry here, and it’s thriving.
Third, transportation infrastructure. GC is connected to the entire East Coast by six Interstate 85 interchanges. It’s 40 miles from the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, has its own airport in Oxford, the county seat, and has access to rail lines and seaports. Businesses can quickly and easily move people and materials in and out of the county.
Finally, the workforce. Granville’s workforce is skilled and educated, thanks in part to the proximity of Vance-Granville Community College (VGCC). For companies interested in locating to the area, one of VGCC’s greatest resources is its customized training program, usually offered at little or no cost to businesses.
The county also owns 507 acres of development-ready land in a complex known as Triangle North, a set of four high-quality business parks. GC’s park is two minutes from Interstate 85, has access to water and sewer, and has electric system plans in place to install power once it’s needed. The park is ready, it just needs a business (or two)!
From an economic development perspective, GC has a lot to offer. Sure, it has challenges just like any other place, but I’ve really enjoyed the process of discovering and marketing its strengths. Rural counties like Granville are facing different challenges than counties like Wake or Durham. How do they stay relevant in a changing economy? How do they attract quality businesses when they don’t have the same amenities as more urban areas? How do they compete with bigger cities like Atlanta? I don’t have the answers, but economic development (and hopefully my booklet!) is key for Granville County.
Local Gov Love,