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To sell something, you have to have something to sell. That is the message that the North Eastern Strategic Alliance (NESA) has been expounding for more than a decade. Located in the northeastern corner of South Carolina, encompassing the Florence and Myrtle Beach MSAs, NESA has been a staunch supporter of product development including industrial parks, sites, and spec buildings. With an improving economy and nearly half of all economic development projects requesting an existing building, having spec or “shell” industrial buildings in inventory is more important than ever.
Companies demand speed to market. In general, companies that locate manufacturing operations in a spec building can save six months or more of design, zoning, permitting, and construction lead times. Spec buildings are not inexpensive investments which is why communities need to perform adequate due diligence on sites that are being considered. Although there are numerous issues to consider, siting a spec building follows a similar due diligence process that a manufacturing client would expect to undergo. Pertinent engineering reports would include an environmental site assessment, archeological report, geotechnical exploration, endangered species assessment, and wetlands delineation with a jurisdictional determination letter from the US Army Corps of Engineers. Having these reports completed not only mitigates the risk of the community with regard to its investment, but also lends credibility and speed to market for an end user. In addition to the engineering reports, the community should assure that the site is appropriately zoned for industrial development and has adequate water, wastewater, natural gas, and electrical infrastructure in place to accommodate a major manufacturing operation.


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Beyond the actual costs of designing, engineering and constructing a spec building, communities should also be prepared to spend marketing dollars pursuing industrial clients. This effort should include advertising, online marketing campaigns, site selector outreach, lead generation campaigns and, most importantly, follow up with prospective end users. Winning with a spec building can be a lengthy process and one that does entail costs; however, the benefits and exposure a community receives by having a spec building along with the activity it generates far outweighs those costs. In fact, it is not uncommon for companies to visit a spec building, decide that the building does not meet their needs for whatever reason, decide that they really like the community and its assets and then decide to build a facility in that community.
For these reasons, almost all of the NESA counties are currently in some phase of spec building development ranging from design, to financing, to actual construction, to marketing completed buildings. The most common sizes currently being developed range from 50,000 to 100,000 square feet and most have at least 25’ clear heights. As site selection consultant Mark Sweeney touted on several occasions, “prepared communities win” and that is exactly the philosophy that NESA has subscribed and deployed in the region. The NESA region currently has available speculative buildings, industrial parks, and sites that have completed the aforementioned engineering reports and due diligence and are actively being marketed for industrial users. While spec buildings have resulted in several wins for the region over the last several years, one major success story happened in Dillon, South Carolina. Dillon County, in conjunction with Marlboro Electric Cooperative, constructed a 50,000 SF speculative building near I-95 in a newly developed industrial park that had recently completed the South Carolina Department of Commerce’s industrial park certification program.

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Because of its location near I-95 and the level of due diligence that had been completed on the industrial park, the building immediately gained traction and several companies that would not have otherwise considered Dillon County began visiting the area. One of the companies to visit the building was Wyman Gordon, an aerospace components manufacturing company. After several visits to Dillon, meetings with regional, local, and state officials, workforce training partner meetings, incentives negotiations, meetings with utility companies, and other meetings, Wyman Gordon acquired the spec building and additional adjacent acreage and announced a $115 million capital investment and 400 well-paying jobs in Dillon County.
Prepared communities win and NESA is prepared. Contact our business team today to Put Success in Your Corner.



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