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Richmond County Plans New Shell Building as an Essential Ingredient for Economic Development

A representation of the location of the new shell building in Rockingham West Industrial Park.
Photo courtesy of Richmond County Economic Development

ROCKINGHAM – Richmond County is taking another step in the right (economical) direction as it plans to construct a new shell building.

Four local industries are currently housed in shell buildings located in Rockingham West Industrial Park. But what purpose does a shell building serve?

A shell building is a structure with empty spaces that has not yet been identified with a known tenant. Once a proposed tenant shows an interest in the building, the empty space can be adapted to meet the needs of that tenant.

The current companies located in the aforementioned shell building are General Glass, CAI Ink, Viking Pools and Piedmont Natural Gas.

According to Richmond County Board of Commissioners Chairman Kenneth Robinette, Richmond County has one of the most successful shell building programs in the state.  

“We’ve put up four and they’ve all sold,” Robinette commented. “We basically don’t have any good buildings available now because we’ve sold them all.

“You can’t sell from an empty wagon,” he continued. “If you don’t have a product to offer, then you can’t sell it. Companies are looking for buildings.”

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Robinette stated that Richmond County partners with Pee Dee Electric, which offers a zero-interest loan, with ample time to begin payments on that loan. Robinette called this a “low risk, high return” method.

 “We’ve got a great relationship with the city of Rockingham,” Robinette said. “They gave us the land, Rockingham West Industrial Park. We built a shell building and advertised it. It just creates a lot of activity coming into our county to start a business.

And if you have a shell building, obviously they (a business) can get started probably 120 days sooner than it would if it had to start from scratch,” he continued. “We’ve been very successful.”

Robinette believes the shell buildings are a great tool for economic development and stated, “If you don’t have a product, they (prospective businesses) won’t come.”

Some other counties around the state have done this, but haven’t been as successful. According to Robinette, Richmond County has got the most aggressive economic development program of any county in the state.

“I know we’re a little county, but if you compare us to every other rural county in the state of North Carolina, we’ve outperformed them for the last three or four years,” Robinette concluded. “We’re very aggressive in our efforts.”

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