John H. Walker
Jim Van Derzee, manager industrial development for CSX Transportation, told members of the Tarboro Rotary Club Thursday that his designation of the Kingsboro Industrial Park as a CSX Select Site is already generating attention in the business world.
“We’ve gotten a lot of attention from business, especially the North Carolina Department of Commerce,” said Van Derzee, who is based in Richmond, Va. and handles industrial development in Virginia and North Carolina.
Van Derzee said when the Carolinas Gateway Partnership contacted him about the Kingsboro Industrial Park, he reviewed the information provided and got excited about the possibilities.
The site sits along the Tarboro Branch of CSX, connecting with the main north-south line at Rocky Mount. In addition, the park offers access to US 64, a four-lane, limited access highway and is less than 20 minutes from I-95.
CSX added the Kingsboro site last December, making it just the sixth location in the company’s 13-state territory — and the only one in North Carolina and Virginia — to earn the designation.
Van Derzee described his job as “helping companies find locations on CSX, helping bring industry and jobs to communities.”
He told the group that in the field of economic development, “it’s really a site elimination process” rather than a sire selection process.
“There is a lot of competition in the site selection process,” he noted, adding, “For the biggest companies, it’s not limited geographically.”
He said there were difficult times in the certification process, but acknowledged the role and financial commitment made by Edgecombe County, the Edgecombe Martin Electric Membership Co-op, Carolina Gateways Partnership and the Golden Leaf Foundation in making sure Kingsboro made the list.
“It was a very extensive process that has gotten us to the point where a site is ready for occupancy,” he said. Designation as Select Site means lower up-front development costs and risk for companies seeking industrial property because much of the legwork, including infrastructure and environmental studies. Have been completed.
“The recession has been very difficult,” Van Derzee said. “I don’t know how the recovery is going to resolve. There’s a lot of money out there (for growth and development), but not so many (companies) that are ready to pull the trigger.”
Van Derzee told the group that rail transport was more efficient than by truck by about a three-to-one ration. The American Association of Railroads estimates that, on average, a freight train can move one ton of freight about 484 miles on just gallon of fuel. That’s a statistic that is included in some of CSX’ television commercials.
He said 43 percent of intercity freight was handled by railroads, more than two times that of trucks.
Van Derzee attended the meeting with Carolina Gateways president John Gessaman and vice president Oppie Jordan.
Gessaman, while making brief remarks before introducing Van Derzee, was asked about potential tenants at the Kingsboro site, specifically Sanderson Farms.
“We have not had any conversation with Sanderson Farms at any point,” Gessaman said.