An Enviable Location
The advantages of Davidson County have become more apparent for businesses in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, retail and tourism/travel.
The Thomasville and Lexington areas, specifically, can provide business owners with the benefits of low taxes, a dependable workforce and location along I-85.
Here is a look at how Thomasville and Lexington are planning for the future.
Furniture and textile manufacturing were once main stays in the Thomasville area, but city leaders have made a concerted effort to expand beyond those industries in recent years.
“This effort has paid off with the development and expansion of Mohawk Flooring, Bartimaeus by Design, Coveris Advanced Coatings, McIntyre Manufacturing Group and Old Dominion Trucking here in Thomasville and EGGER Wood Products in Davidson County,” said Thomasville Assistant City Manager Michael Brandt. “By broadening the types of manufacturing, it is hoped that when there is a down market in one area, the other industries are able to continue producing. This also broadens the tax base for the city, helping to stabilize our city revenues.”
The city found some innovative ways to assist with the growth.
For example, Mohawk Industries is completing a significant warehouse expansion that received incentives from the city through state and federal grants, Brandt said. Wildcat Territory, a small custom home goods company, used similar incentives recently to refurbish an underutilized manufacturing plant.
Now, with the continued success of manufacturing, the city is focusing on developing more retail and service businesses. Thomasville leaders are looking to bring more high-end chain store development near the southern end of the city around the NC Route 109/I-85 interchange, as well as lodging options.
“We have a unique opportunity to focus on National Highway between I-85 and downtown due to the designation of the area as an Opportunity Zone by the state and federal governments,” Brandt said. “This designation allows for special tax benefits for developers interested in building new buildings and redeveloping older properties. Significantly, these incentives apply to both commercial and manufacturing development.”
Brandt also sees an opportunity for landowners and developers to offer warehousing and light manufacturing building options, as many businesses are looking for already finished, modern facilities.
The downtown area of Thomasville has plenty of potential as well, Brandt said.
“Thomasville has a large market area that extends into two surrounding counties. The convenience of I-85 in the south and 29/70 in the north make it easy for people to visit Thomasville businesses. We are seeing a resurgence of interest and development in the downtown,” he said.
“The city and the Thomasville Area Chamber work closely together to continue to improve the local business climate.” Brandt said.
“We are exploring ways to bring in new retail development and support our existing businesses through market analysis. This information will tell us more about the local market and the missing opportunities for new business enterprises.” Brandt said.
One of the longtime businesses in the Thomasville area is Allied Foam Products, which was recently named the Small Business of the Year by the Chamber.
“We are very honored to receive this award, proving hard work, dedicated employees and a wonderful customer base do pay off,” said Allied Foam President Don Clinard. “We are thankful to the Chamber for this recognition and their dedication to improve all businesses in our area.”
Allied Foam Products, Inc. primarily supplies the industry with foam protective packaging. It has various offerings, including Expanded Polystyrene, Polyethylene, Expanded Polyethylene and Polyurethane The business started in Thomasville 30 years ago and has seven employees.
In Lexington, tourism is a priority along with manufacturing and retail growth.
“City officials work in close partnership with Lexington Tourism Authority/Visitors Center, Uptown Lexington and Barbecue Festival event coordinators to promote quality of life and major events such as the Boo Bash, Uptown Strolls, BBQ Cook-off, Depot District Music Fest and the annual Barbecue Festival,” said Lexington City Manager Terra Greene. “The LTA staff operates our new amphitheater to help coordinate outdoor events.”
One positive tourism-related addition is a Hampton Inn expected to open in 2019.
The city works with the local Chamber, county and other nearby towns to bring business to the area. For example, Lexington assisted with the planning around EGGER’s new manufacturing plant in the I-85 Corporate Center in Linwood. EGGER is one of the world’s leading wood-based materials suppliers for the furniture, wood construction and flooring industries, and this is its first U.S. manufacturing plant.
“Although EGGER is not in the corporate limits, the city worked collaboratively with Davidson County to extend sewer and natural gas service to this major new industry,” Greene said.
Also, Lexington helped make it possible for a new Chick Fil-A location by working with the North Carolina Department of Transportation to clear trees “that opened that shopping district up for easy viewing from I-85,” Greene said.
Lexington is also looking to build more co-working space availability for entrepreneurs.
The area is ideal for business because of the ability for the city to expedite plan review, Greene said.
“The city owns all utilities – including electric, natural gas, water and sewer – and can coordinate seamlessly with any developer. “The city also has the ability to offer various utility and marketing incentives.” Greene said.
One of the Lexington small business success stories is Ryan Short Entertainment, which was recently named as Small Business of the Year by the Chamber. Short started as a teenage magician and noticed over the years that some events were not well serviced by rental companies.
He started his rental business in 2011 with some inflatables, expanded to chairs and tables the next year and tents a year after that. Now he has more than 1,000 chairs and various styles of tents and tables.
“I’m in the event rental and service business,” he said. “I mainly specialize in weddings and private corporate events.”
Much of his business comes from word of mouth, and Short – a native of Lexington – thanks the community for all of the support he’s received over the years. He also credits the Chamber for referring businesses like his to others in town.