Blue Cross Blue Shield to invest $16 million in Piedmont Triad Research Park

By Richard Craver
Published: February 21, 2011

Blue Cross Blue Shield of N.C. said today it will make a $16 million investment in one of the largest, if not the largest, economic-development projects in downtown history.

The investment, made over three years, will be spent on Building 91, a former manufacturing facility near the corner of Fifth Street and Patterson Avenue that was donated to Piedmont Triad Research Park by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.

The building has been renamed Wake Forest BioTech Place. It will offer 242,000 square feet of space for laboratories, offices and other uses, primarily for operations that Wake Forest University Health Sciences is transferring from its Hawthorne campus.

The Blue Cross investment will come through the N.C. Mill Rehabilitation Tax Credits program. It is the insurer’s first major investment involving the program, spokeswoman Stephanie Skordas said. She said that the investment could vary depending on the cost of bringing the building back into use.

It’s a cash investment only. Skordas said that Blue Cross has no plans to move operations into the building. It has more than 600 employees in a customer-service and claims-administration operation at Madison Park in northwest Winston-Salem.

Last June, park officials reached an agreement with Wexford Science and Technology LLC of Baltimore on an $87 million project for the North District – the biggest announcement regarding the park since plans for it surfaced in 1994.

Renovations have been taking place for months in the building units. The project is scheduled for completion by the end of the year.

Officials at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, which is landlocked on its main campus, have longed for years for expansion space for its research departments.

About 350 employees will work there – a 38 percent increase in the park’s work force, to 1,275. Wake Forest Baptist plans to occupy 85 percent of the space.

“Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina has a 77-year tradition of investing in the health of North Carolinians,” Brad Wilson, the insurer’s president and chief executive, said in a statement.

“We are pleased to continue that tradition with this investment, which creates new medical research labs from historic tobacco warehouses. You could say we’re preserving the past while creating a new future for this part of the Triad.”

Doug Edgeton, the president of the park, said that the tax credit “is a very effective tool for sustainable redevelopment and provides tremendous benefits to the local economy.”

“This investment by Blue Cross Blue Shield of N.C. will enable us to preserve a former manufacturing area in the heart of downtown Winston Salem,” Edgeton said.

Source: http://www2.journalnow.com

Announced: $16 million Investment in Piedmont Triad Research Park

The Winston-Salem Journal reports that Blue Cross Blue Shield of N.C. is making a $16-million investment in Wake Forest BioTech Place, a former manufacturing facility near the corner of Fifth Street and Patterson Avenue in downtown Winston-Salem.  For the full article from the Winston-Salem Journal click here:

Gov. Perdue Vetoes Senate Bill 13

Gov. Bev Perdue today vetoed Senate Bill 13, her first veto of the legislative session and only the second of her administration. The bill, widely criticized as harmful to the state’s efforts to attract businesses and grow jobs, was vetoed this afternoon at the Capitol.

Here’s Gov. Perdue’s statement:

“This bill started out as a way to help North Carolina secure $400 million in additional savings from state government agencies during this difficult budget time,” said Gov. Perdue. “I suggested that bill to the General Assembly and was ready to sign that legislation. But the bill in its current form forces a one-time cash-grab from funds that are intended to create jobs and spur economic development. That’s not the right move for North Carolina, where jobs simply must be our No. 1 priority.”

What’s behind #1?

For the seventh consecutive year, and the ninth time in the last 10 years, North Carolina ranks number one in Site Selection magazine’s list of states with the top business climate. You can read the article here.

However, one area of the article may hold a key as to why North Carolina has spent so much time on top. And it is summed up nicely by Keith Crisco, NC Commerce Secretary:

“We work just as hard on a project with 42 jobs as we do on a project with 860 jobs… That’s how you do well… They’re all a big deal these days. It’s like the Johnny Cash song ‘One Piece at a Time’ — he built that car one piece at a time, and that’s how we’re going to transform the [circumstances] we’re in right now.”

Could this be the difference maker in North Carolina’s economic development efforts? That local and state organizations exert every bit of effort to make expanding or relocating to NC as attractive to smaller businesses as it is to the big boys?

To understand why NC leaders take this approach, think of the suppliers that typically follow a major manufacturer into a new location — smaller companies that, when combined, can add up to a major lift in employment, among other areas. Also, consider what, in part, makes a state or local community less sensitive to economic ups and downs — a diverse range of industries and sizes of business.

Success by association?

Naturally, with the Southeast dominating much of the top 10 spots, NC excels in part because of its location, infrastructure, available workforce, relatively low cost of living, and excellent quality of life. But when a business knows that a state is going to go the extra mile to help your business succeed in its new home, that could be all the incentive a business needs.

Forsyth Tech is mentioned twice in State of the Union Address

Last night, Forsyth Technical Community College student Kathy Proctor attended the State of the Union address as a guest of the White House.  President Obama then mentioned Forsyth Tech two times during the speech. This is great exposure for our community and Forsyth Tech as her story has created buzz nationwide.  Here is an article from the Winston-Salem Journal.