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Person County’s Resident Shell Building Expert

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By Brittany Bennett, on July 19, 2013

Yesterday I wrapped up my cornerstone project for the summer with a presentation to board members for the Person County Economic Development Commission (EDC). At the start of my time in the Person County Manager’s Office, I was given the task of researching the risks and benefits of building shell buildings for the economic development director. I was able to complete this project and write an 18 page report over the last two months, in addition to other projects I’ve been working on.

shell building interior
The interior of a shell building.

The ultimate goal of economic development is to bring jobs to a community. Rural areas like Person County often face challenges in attracting industry for reasons such as location and workforce limitations. The economic development director for the County is interested in shell buildings and thought that my presentation and accompanying research report would help increase the understanding of their purpose for members of the EDC board. In case you’re wondering, shell buildings are buildings that are built for the purpose of attracting industry. The name, “shell” explains exactly what these buildings are—four walls, or the outside shell of a building. They can range in size, with the most common ranging from 50,000 to 100,000 square feet. They also include things like utility connections and access roads. Once a client leases or buys the property, they complete the building to fit their needs.

For my research I talked with economic developers at the state and local levels in North Carolina, as well as an Atlanta-based private developer who has worked with North Carolina counties. From these phone interviews, I was able to conclude that rural counties must be very proactive, even aggressive, when recruiting and attracting companies. Because of this, rural governments more commonly pursue measures like building shell buildings; in urban areas, most development is done privately with government providing incentives. Shell buildings enhance a community’s attractiveness because clients want to see existing buildings when choosing locations. Despite this advantage, they are always a risk.

Based on the questions, lively discussion, and positive feedback that followed my presentation, I think that I successfully conveyed my message and achieved the goal of increasing knowledge of shell buildings and other alternative options. I was appreciative of the questions that were asked because that signaled to me that my audience paid attention to what I had to say, which doesn’t always happen when you’re an intern.


Happy Friday! More adventures in Person County to come next week…


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