CONCORD, NC – Business leaders in Cabarrus County say they’re optimistic about 2013.
“If I'm looking at Christmas gift for 2013, sell the Phillip Morris site, put manufacturing jobs there, high skill, high wage, and that would make an excellent 2013,” said John Cox, Cabarrus Regional Chamber.
The Phillip Morris plant has sat empty for three years on U.S. Highway 29 in Concord since the cigarette manufacturer shut it down. It is 3.4 million square feet.
“The truth is I don't think there is an automobile manufacturer in North Carolina. If there's gonna be, this would be a great place for it,” said Cox.
Cox says there are active clients in negotiations for the plant. Part of the plant has been used as sound stage for the film “Hunger Games” and the pilot of the Showtime series “Homeland.”
Cox is understandably optimistic. He says car and home sales are up in Cabarrus County. The unemployment number is down; 8.1% most recently.
The North Carolina Research Campus is building a 63,000 square foot medical office building. Concord Mills, touted as the largest tourist attraction in North Carolina, reports brisk holiday sales, and says it’s expecting several new stores in 2013.
“Definitely a couple new shoe concepts, women's apparel, and again a new restaurant, and possibly a new entertainment concept,” said Holly Roberson, marketing director.
Just down Bruton Smith Blvd, an auto mall is planned for construction near the Embassy Suites.
“A $55 million ‘Six flags over Automobiles’, and Hendrick is doing it,” said Cox.
In 2013, Cox says the chamber will continue efforts to expand current businesses within the county. He admits when it comes to recruiting new companies, the county needs more office space available.