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Ten Great Edge Markets You Might Not Know About

SB&D’s Top 10 Edge markets offer the best of all worlds.

By Daniel Christopher

Located on the outskirts of some of the South’s most dynamic markets are what we at SB&D like to call “edge” markets. These communities blend the quality of life of a smaller community with the opportunities and advantages of a big city. And, of course, each of the markets profiled featured in our Ten Best offers an excellent business climate, great accessibility, reasonable costs, and an available and productive labor force.

If you’re looking at locating in one of the South’s great metro areas, but want to be part of a smaller community, one of these edge markets might be your perfect fit.

Kershaw County, S.C.
Edge Market of Columbia

Known for its Revolutionary War history and the ever-popular Carolina Cup Steeplechase Race, Kershaw County is a gem just outside of the state capital Columbia. It boasts a regional work force of 225,000 within a 30-minute drive. The area also has an excellent transportation system with access to four interstates within a 40-mile drive, the Port of Charleston within 125 miles, and Columbia Metropolitan Airport within 45 miles. Kershaw County is home to three industrial parks located on Interstate 20 and a new Class A office park that is only 10 minutes from growing northeast Columbia. A 75,000 square-foot shell building is also available there in the Steeplechase Industrial Park. Companies that have recently chosen to do business in Kershaw County include Target Corporation, which chose the community for a major distribution center, and automotive suppliers such as Hengst USA, Dana, Hendrickson, S.C. Yutaka Technologies, and Kawashima Textiles.

Conway, Ark.
Edge Market of Little Rock

The Conway area has been experiencing strong population growth, gaining about 15,000 new residents in the last eight years. That population is also increasingly young and well educated with a median age of 26.8 and with 40 percent of adults holding at least a bachelor’s degree. The economy of Faulkner County, where Conway is located, has led the state in job growth, adding more than 4,000 new jobs in the last two years. A flurry of recent expansions and corporate locations include Kimberly Clark, Acxiom, Southwestern Energy Company, Schlumberger, and others.

Another interesting fact is that Conway and Faulkner County are enjoying a boom from the discovery of natural gas in the area. The development of Fayetteville Shale in and around the area has brought nearly 2,000 high-paying energy jobs to the market. Energy companies are investing big money there. For instance, Southwestern Energy alone invested a billion dollars in 2007 and will invest another billion in 2008.

Bossier City, La.
Edge Market of Shreveport

Located in Northwest Louisiana, Bossier City is home to about 60,000 residents. As a business location, it excels in ease of permitting and offers ready-to-go sites at several sizable industrial parks, including one at the Port of Shreveport-Bossier. This edge market also offers a strong multi-modal transportation infrastructure and a big talent pool, complemented by the area’s 81,000 college students enrolled at more than 20 colleges within a 100-mile radius.

Hutto, Tex.
Edge market of Austin

Hutto is located in Central Texas about 25 minutes from Downtown Austin. It is less than 30 minutes from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, less than 10 minutes from Dell’s corporate headquarters in Round Rock, and less than 25 minutes from Samsung’s chip fabrication facility. Transportation-wise, Hutto is adjacent to Interstate 35, the primary trade route between Mexico and Canada.

This standout edge market has the distinction of being the fastest growing city in Texas since 2000 with a growth rate of a whopping 665.7 percent. Hutto also boasts a low cost of doing business and low insurance rates. One of the latest and most exciting projects in Hutto is the Crossings of Carmel Creek, which will span 469 acres and will bring approximately 1.5 million square feet of retail, hotels, park space and entertainment to the area.

York County, S.C.
Edge market of Charlotte

York County offers the best of what North and South Carolina have to offer. Located just a few miles south of Charlotte across the South Carolina state line, it combines a Charlotte metro location (home to nine Fortune 500 companies and the nation’s second-largest financial market) with South Carolina incentives. The area provides easy access to Charlotte Douglas International Airport and is crisscrossed by two interstates, I-77 and I-85.

With its many advantages, York County has averaged more than $200 million annually in industry and business development since 1995. County leaders attribute this to proximity to Charlotte, targeted industry plans and aggressive use of incentives. Among York County’s leading employers are Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, CitiFinancial, Tyco Electronics, and Ross Stores, which chose the York County market for a sizable distribution center.

Clarksville, Tenn.
Edge market of Nashville

Clarksville is located 35 minutes northwest of Nashville on Interstate 24 and only 40 minutes from the Nashville International Airport. It boasts Middle Tennessee’s only TVA-Certified Megasite, Commerce Park, with more than 1,215 contiguous acres available for development.  Economic drivers in this edge market include Austin Peay State University, one of the fastest growing in the state, and Fort Campbell Army Post, the largest employer in Tennessee and Kentucky. In recent years, Robert Bosch LLC, Jostens Printing & Publishing Co., Quebecor World, American Standard Trane, Sanderson Pipe Corporation, and MW/MB, have all announced capital investments in Clarksville.

Decatur/Morgan County, Ala.
Edge market of Huntsville

Morgan County continues to be a consistent leader in Alabama for industry announcements. In calendar year 2007 alone Morgan County announced a total of 24 relocations and expansions.
Morgan County is currently planning a new business park development located along the Interstate 65 corridor which runs north and south through the county and the state. The first phase of the project involves approximately 150 acres and the total study area is approximately 1,800 acres.
Northern Kentucky
Edge market of Cincinnati

Northern Kentucky is a region that offers the assets of a 2.1 million plus metropolitan area while providing the convenience and affordability of a smaller community. Comprised of Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties, it is in a central geographic location to reach markets east of the Mississippi River.

Northern Kentucky is also home to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, which provides cargo and passenger service. The area has exceptional fiber optics thanks to Cincinnati Bell Telephone, which offers more than 90 percent digital service to all customers, providing an extensive network of self-healing fiber optics rings.  All of these advantages explain why a strong number of businesses are expanding and continuing to grow in the region. Fifteen companies located or expanded their operations in Northern Kentucky in 2007, which are expected to create 1,355 new jobs.

Cleveland/Bradley County, Tenn.
Edge market of Chattanooga

The local labor force numbers more than 320,000 within 25 miles of Cleveland/Bradley County. Nestled in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, this market is about 29 miles from Chattanooga and 82 miles from Knoxville. It offers a skilled and diverse work force with employers ranging from food processing, corporate headquarters, and customer service centers, healthcare, financial services, education, retail trade and construction. Manufacturing is particularly strong in Bradley County with 147 manufacturers.

Cleveland/Bradley County also has a wealth of available product with good interstate access. Cleveland/Bradley County Industrial Park is located about 2.5 miles from Interstate 75 and Hiwassee River Industrial Park is located an eighth of a mile off I-75.

Salisbury, N.C.
Edge market of Charlotte

Salisbury, which boasts 135,000 residents and several certified industrial sites, is strategically positioned between the fast-growing Charlotte metro region and the dynamic Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and High Point markets. With exceptional transportation access, it offers a premier location for warehouses, manufacturing, and distribution facilities. The largest consolidated rail system in the country is centered in the region and more than 45 freight companies also call the region home. Getting to interstates is also easy with I-85, I-77, and I-40 immediately accessible. In addition, Salisbury is about 45 minutes from Charlotte Douglas International Airport and about 55 minutes from Triad international Airport in Greensboro. Among the companies doing business in Salisbury are Freightliner which employs more than 4500 in its Rowan County manufacturing operations, grocery chain Food Lion, and soft drink company Cheerwine.

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