Certified Cooperative Ready Sites help grow North Carolina Communities - Carolina Country

Local Insights Empower Economic Growth

The Cooperative Ready Sites program helps communities attract and expand quality businesses

By Donnie Spivey

donnieSpiveyNorth Carolina’s 26 electric co-ops serve 45% of the state’s landmass, with electric co-op members in 93 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. And it’s undeniable: we serve some of the most beautiful parts of our state. I see it firsthand every day, driving through the rolling forests and farmland on the way to my co-op’s office in Lilesville.

The quality of our rural communities is no secret, and each year they’re drawing more and more businesses looking for a home with a skilled workforce, good amenities and robust infrastructure. Electric co-ops play a big role in supporting that economic development, and we’ve been doing so before “economic development” was even a term. Concern for Community is a driving co-op principle, woven into our culture from how we approach maintaining reliable power, to how we build partnerships to attract business and industry.

One program that has been a boon for our communities since its launch in 2022 is Cooperative Ready Sites. This initiative is helping communities attract, retain and expand quality businesses that result in job growth and private investment in rural North Carolina.

We’re committed to helping attract, retain and grow businesses in our communities.

There are nearly a dozen certified Cooperative Ready Sites across the state, with more in development. A good example of the due diligence that goes into preparing one of these sites is the Atlantic Gateway Logistics Park, in Anson County right across the highway from Pee Dee Electric’s headquarters. It recently received a Bronze rating from CSX as a high-ranking site for industrial development served by CSX rail lines.

When we put the Cooperative Ready Site certification on a site, you can trust it’s been through the wringer. We work with an array of local agencies and other utilities to ensure it has utility and transportation infrastructure in place to ensure that future businesses thrive. What’s more, a broad spectrum of reports are conducted, including those assessing cultural significance of the land, geological makeup, wetland studies, topography and an endangered species review.

As it happens, the Atlantic Gateway Logistics Park is located in an area that could potentially be home to red-cockaded woodpeckers and Schweinitz’s sunflower, both protected under federal and state law as endangered species. After careful study, including during the sunflower’s blooming period in late summer and fall, it was determined that no endangered species were present (see Searching for Sunflowers).

This kind of advanced site preparation is extremely valuable to outside businesses looking to settle in a community. In this case, Pee Dee Electric — along with partners such as North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives, Anson County utilities, CSX and the Anson Economic Development Corporation — shared valuable insights into the region, offering local perspective. We’re also aware of local market trends, which can help target industries that would truly be the best fit for both the specific site location and the local community.

Electric co-op employees and directors understand what businesses and industry need to succeed in our communities. We are a part of the communities we serve, and you’ll find us holding positions as county commissioners, volunteer firefighters, ministers, coaches in our local sports leagues, PTA members and more. We’re committed to helping attract, retain and grow businesses in our service territories, and in this way, we’re powering communities in more ways than one.

About the Author

Donnie Spivey is CEO and executive vice president for Lilesville-based Pee Dee Electric.

Leave a comment

You are commenting as guest.